As usual the small shareholders turned out in force for the agm in Wandsworth.
A good year but the chairman was disappointed that the credit crunch meant he could no longer get fillet steak in any pubs. The dividend has doubled in 2 years and the results from the brewing outfit, Wells & Youngs has met targets and contributed good profit. 9 or 10 new pubs - mainly freehold. No mention of those closed pubs and no complaints from the floor. Apart from a complaint about the disapplication of pre-emption rights (I kid you not), the main complaint was that some new pub signs had been painted by the local kindergarten - more on this another time once I have taken a look at the refurbished Green Man, Putney.
Non-Executive director, Roy Summers, responsible for production and beer quality has retired and been replaced by a banker and a resauranteur - a sign of the times for a progressive company.
Lager brands are suffering but real ale sales are outperforming the market - a fact we are hearing more and more on the circuit.
It is the intention that all pubs sell real ale - the only one missing presently, the Fire Stables in Wimbledon will reintroduce Young's Bitter in September.
The usual fairly short meeting was followed by the usual dash for beer. Cask conditioned beer rather than racked bright was available for the first time given the logistics of beer now coming from Bedford. There were certainly no complaints about the beer from the most discerning crowd - a testament to the brewers at Wells and Youngs.
Bottled beers were available to take away (again all real ale) and after an hour or so, we went on the usual march around Wandsworth. Beer in the Spread Eagle, Brewers Inn and the Grapes was all excellently kept followed by one for the road in the Alma.
As usual the executive were all around town and more than happy to answer questions and give confidence about the direction of the company from a cask ale perspective.
Even the city boys, so vociferous in the past about "extracting value from the property portfolio" were more circumspect in the current clime. "Sit tight, this is a well run business, it will be good to see the estate expand ..."
A long day as this was followed by a visit to the GBBF publicty pub crawl and then the North London branch agm for more Young's Bitter. Slept well !