Marston’s stockpiled £6m amid no-deal Brexit fears

Pub and brewing group Marston’s has revealed it stockpiled around £6 million of beer including Spanish lager Estrella Damm amid worries over a no-deal Brexit.

The Pitcher & Piano owner said it built up stocks of the brand and several core lines “in anticipation of a disorderly Brexit” before the original March 29 Brexit deadline, which has now been pushed back to October 31.

Marston’s said: “Consequently, stock levels were around £6 million higher than the corresponding period last year.

“We continue to closely monitor the Brexit situation and are well placed to implement any necessary contingency plans.”

Details of the stockpiling came as Marston’s reported a 2% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £37 million for the six months to March 30 on revenues 5% higher at £553.1 million.

On a statutory basis, it swung out of the red with interim pre-tax profits of £19.2 million against losses of £13.4 million a year earlier.

Shares jumped 7% higher after the results.

Sales across its 408 destination and premium pubs rose 1.2% in the first half and sales across its 1,143 taverns were up 3.9%.

Total like-for-like sales rose by 2.2%, while the group said growth picked up to 3.2% in the last 10 weeks.

Brewing revenues jumped 8.3% to £183.2 million, with underlying earnings in the division up 8.2% at £14.5 million.

It also said the group has enjoyed strong trading over the unusually warm Easter weekend, which contributed to a “solid start” so far to the second half.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, said: “Whilst the backdrop of ongoing uncertainty around Brexit continues to be challenging, opportunities for growth remain and we are confident of delivering another year of profitable growth for our shareholders.”

Earlier this year, Marston’s said it would scale back expansion as part of plans to tackle its debt pile and amid Brexit uncertainty.

The company said in January it aims to reduce its net debt by £200
million to £1.2 billion by 2023.

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