British pub group Fuller, Smith & Turner (FSTA.L), on Thursday, posted higher sales for the first 10 weeks of the new fiscal year, aided by strong demand and lower costs, but its growth rate slowed from last year.

The company, which operates premium pubs across the UK with many in central London, reported a 4.4 per cent rise in like-for-like sales for the 10 weeks to June 8, slower than the 13.9 per cent jump in the comparable period a year ago, which had more bank holidays.

Pubs groups across the UK have had to grapple with high operating costs and sticky wages that have eaten into profit margins over the past year, although robust demand and the easing of some costs have helped alleviate some of the inflation-induced stress.

“As of today, those inflationary pressures, especially in regard to food and energy, have reduced, which gives us additional confidence in the coming year” and puts the company in a strong position for growth, CEO Simon Emeny said in a statement.

The company’s profit surged more than 60 per cent to 20.5 million pounds ($26.2 million) in the year ended March 30, but still fell short of matching pre-pandemic levels.

Analysts, on average, had forecast a profit of 20.3 million pounds, according to a company-compiled consensus. ($1 = 0.7826 pounds)