Fullers AGM was held yesterday in the Hock Cellar at the famous old brewery. The usual gathering of small shareholders, city boys representing their institutions, family shareholders and directors gathered to hear Michael Turner, the Chief Executive present his report for the year.
The massage that has been rammed (sic) home for a number of years now is that this well run company has a long term focus and retains a culture of style not fashion. In these difficult times, they will continue to invest through the economic cycle and will be quick to capitalise on any underinvestment by their competitors.
This was a good year with cask ale sales increasing both in volume and market share. Once again the bottle of London Pride outran the Lucozade bottle in the London Marathon.
Michael Turner commented that there is now a feeling in the city that the vertically integrated brewing/retailing model which is not overborrowed is now considered to be the best way of running such a business - this from the same fellows who only a year ago were muttering about taking on extra debt to get better value from the property portfolio and that breweries would be better NOT owning their own pubs. Funny bunch those city types !
Hopefully that long termist attitude will see London's last remaining family brewer remain independent for many years to come.
The Fullers event is usually less of a pub crawl and drink up than Young's the previous week but a couple of pints of ESB in the brewery encouraged me to visit the pub next door, The Mawson's Arm where a limited edition of cask London Porter was calling "drink me". After a couple of hours the rest of the day was a write off. Or so I thought ......
Some pints in, I received a call from LBC radio to ask if I could do a live radio interview at 6.30pm. Perhaps I should have said no but I was keen to give London's listeners an exclusive on my favourite pub - The Trafalgar of course just became my favourite pub after it was declared the Pub of the Year winner the previous evening. Perhaps also I should have at least told other CAMRA members and possibly the landlord before spilling the beans on live radio but the opportunity was too good to miss. Luckily the interview was mainly lucid and I managed to get CAMRA's view of community pubs across to a wider audience.
Had a long conversation also with Evening Standard newspaper again about my new favourite pub (must look out for that later in the week) and then spent the evening chairing the committee of London CAMRA branches at The Royal Oak, Tabard Street, London's only Harvey's Brewery pub.
Altogether another satisfactory day out.