3rd October 2017


During the year JW Lees made capital expenditure investments of £10.8m, including the acquisition of six new freehold pubs and hotels – The Bear’s Paw Chester, The Crown Inn Lymm, The Frog & Railway Heaton Moor, The Groes Inn Conwy, The Hanging Gate Weaverham and The Vale Royal Abbey Arms Delamere. Four pubs were sold in the year yielding a small profit of £75,000 and major refurbishments (over £50,000) were carried out at 72 sites including The Boathouse Chester, The Cross Keys in Saddleworth, The Elizabethan Heaton Moor, The Golden Pheasant Plumley, The Gwesty Links Hotel Llandudno, The Jolly Carter in Eccles and The Trearddur Bay Hotel Anglesey.

Owing to this increased level of investment JW Lees EBITDA fell by £1.1m (11.8%) to £8.2m, with operating profit falling by £869,000 (13.2%) to £5.7m and pre-tax profit (excluding property disposals) falling by £617,000 (10.7%) to £5.1m. However, JW Lees nevertheless paid out £217,000 in profit share to colleagues working in the business in recognition for their contribution during the year.

William Lees-Jones, JW Lees Managing Director, said, ‘2017 has been a year of positive growth for JW Lees and we are laying the foundations for the next chapter of our family business as we approach our 200th anniversary in 2028. We anticipate that short-term profitability will continue to fall slightly this year as a result of business interruption while we again increase our levels of investment in our estate, with our top hotel, The Alderley Edge Hotel, being fully refurbished as well as increased levels of expenditure in both our managed and tenanted pubs. Bedrooms are becoming an increasingly important revenue stream and we now have 211 bedrooms in our managed estate of hotels and inns. We are in the fortunate position of having supportive family shareholders who want to invest in our business for the long term as well as being virtually debt-free. We remain hungry for acquisitions of both Managed and Tenanted pubs as well as hotels in the North West.

‘JW Lees remains firmly committed to all of our three trading divisions – Managed Houses, Tenancies and Free Trade as well as vertical integration where we can add value in key service areas like Distribution and Technical Services. We have also been working with branding agency Squad for the last 12 months on repositioning the JW Lees brand as a modern traditional brewer in the face of an increasingly crowded landscape of traditional and new craft breweries and we will be unveiling this new look in November.

‘In May 2017 we strengthened our management team with the appointment of David Young as Head of Property: David joined JW Lees from Spirit Pub Company where he had risen to Investments and Facilities Director after starting with Tetley Pub Company as a pub manager 27 years ago in 1990. David will become JW Lees Director of Property from 1st January 2018, which will allow Simon Lees-Jones to focus on new pub acquisitions. Nicola Waring, who joined JW Lees in 2016 from webuyanycar.com when she was hired as the first JW Lees Director of People, has driven People Development at JW Lees and we now have over 50 Assistant Pub Managers and Trainee Chefs at Levels 2, 3 and 4. We believe that by investing in both our brand, properties and people that we are well placed for future growth.’