Half-year pre-tax profit at Shepherd Neame, the brewer and pub operator which makes Spitfire and Bishops Finger ales, has fallen 2.3% to £4.7m on sales up 3.7% at £52.4m.

Although total beer volumes for the six months to 29 December fell slightly, sales to supermarkets had been very strong, the brewer said.

“We believe the current difficult trading conditions will persist throughout 2008 but we are investing in the business for the long term and are confident the quality and profile of our brands will enable the company to continue to outperform the market,” added CEO Jonathan Neame.