PROFITS are slightly down for the East Lancashire pubs, hotels and brewing giant Daniel Thwaites.

But a sterling World Cup for England has enabled the Mellor company to offset a challenging year for its inns.

Turnover is slightly up, at £96.9m, their annual report shows, but their pre-tax profits have virtually flatlined at £8.2m, due to market losses on contracts and one-off pension liabilities.

Chairman Richard Bailey has sounded a cautious note for 2019-20, against the continuing consumer uncertainty generated by Brexit.

He said: "There is much uncertainty in the country which stems from a lack of political leadership, cohesion and direction and this has unsurprisingly seeped into both business and consumer confidence.

"This lack of confidence means that for us, now is a time to be cautious.

"After some years of significant capital investment this next year is a time for consolidation and for us to focus on fine tuning our core business."

Several major pub makeovers in East Lancashire have been noted in the annual report, including the Millstone in Darwen, the Queen Anne in Bury, the Britannia in Oswaldtwistle and the Holcombe Tap in Ramsbottom.

Mr Bailey also highlighted the acquisition of the former free house Funny Girls, in Blackpool, as a key decision for 2018-19.

Major restructuring has taken place within their hotels and inns division, it has been reported, to improve the front-of-house offer.

But the opening of the Beverley Arms in East Yorkshire, earning industry praise, has offset some of the cited difficulties.

The Millstone at Mellor was one of a number of sites which benefited from a bedrooms overhaul over the course of the year.

Mr Bailey also said that the costs associated with the former Star Brewery in Blackburn were now decreasing as demolition got underway.

He also praised the new craft brewery at Mellor, which had won national recognition for its cask ales at awards in Burton-on-Trent earlier in the year.

Mr Bailey added: "The business is in good health with talented and motivated teams, and we are well positioned to grow and make further progress in the year to come."