Marston’s toasts record profits after summer trading boost

Pitcher & Piano owner Marston’s has thanked a surge in pub-goers during the World Cup and heatwave for helping deliver a record annual profits haul.

The firm said it is expecting to report underlying pre-tax profits of around £104 million for the year to September 29, up 3.9% on the £100.1 million posted the previous year.

Marston’s – which also owns the Two For One chain – said trading was boosted by a jump in drinks sales during the World Cup and the heatwave, which helped like-for-like sales rise 0.6% in its managed and franchised pubs over the year.

Marston’s
Marston’s saw annual beer sales from its brewery jump around 47% higher (David Jones/PA)

Pub sales lifted 1.6% in the final 10 weeks, while the group said its brewing business was also given a fillip over the summer, as sales by volume soared around 47%.

The strong summer trading made up for the effect of poor weather on sales earlier in the year and offset weaker demand for food during the football tournament and searing hot weather.

The group is expecting to report record revenues of more than £1.1 billion – up 15% year on year.

CITY Wolverhampton
Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay cheered a ‘strong year’ for the company’s pubs and brewing arm (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, cheered a “strong year” for its pubs and brewing arm.

He said: “We have seen clear benefit from our balanced portfolio, having achieved good growth in wet-led pubs and from brewing, maximising the trading opportunities provided by the good summer weather and World Cup.”

He added: “Although trading in destination food-led pubs was weaker, this predominantly reflects issues beyond our control relating to unseasonal weather extremes and the World Cup.

“However we are encouraged that our dining pubs are now seeing improving momentum and we expect to make further progress in 2019.”

Marston’s said its drinks-led pubs saw like-for-like sales rise 3.8%, with comparable profit in its leased estate up around 2%.

But the group’s food-focused premium pubs suffered a 1.2% drop in like-for-like sales.

It said trading in these pubs improved in the last 10 weeks, with like-for-like sales up 0.1%.

Shares fell 3% despite the bullish year-end trading update.

Analyst Greg Johnson, at Shore Capital, said the expected annual profits figure for Marston’s is just shy of its £107 million forecast, but added that it is a “solid” update.

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