Scottish & Newcastle has warned the recent bad weather will make hitting its trading targets for the year “very challenging”.

The brewer, which makes brands including Kronenbourg 1664, Foster's and Newcastle Brown Ale, reported a 5.5% increase in half-year pre-tax profit to £191m on sales up 7.8% at £2.1bn.

In the UK, sales were up just 0.4% at £855m while operating profit fell 13.6% to £76m in the six months to 30 June.

Performance in the UK had been hit by “exceptionally adverse weather conditions and challenging comparatives from last year's World Cup,” S&N said. UK branded beer volume in the off-trade fell 4.5% during the period, it added.

However, its core beer and cider brands grew market share and revenue growth, while its cider brand Bulmer's, which relaunched last year, gained a 4% share of the total cider market in 12 months.

“We made good progress during the first five months of the year in our key Western European markets but this was undermined by the severe weather conditions experienced in June,” said chairman Sir Brian Stewart. “In addition, the effects of the brewery strike in France has also impacted on performance in July.”

“While we remain confident that our core businesses and brands will continue to compete strongly going forward, the aggregate effect of the factors described above will make the achievement of this year's trading targets very challenging.”

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