Marston’s cheers sales bounce-back after restrictions lifted

Trading at pub group Marston’s has rebounded above levels seen before the pandemic struck thanks to the full lifting of restrictions in the summer.

The firm said like-for-like sales in the quarter from July 25 to October 2 were 2% higher than those seen in 2019 across its estate of around 1,500 pubs.

The hard-hit hospitality sector has received a welcome boost since the last coronavirus restrictions ended on July 19.

But Marston’s update for overall trading in the full year to October 2 revealed the impact of earlier lockdown closures, with total pub sales of £402 million down 22% on the previous year.

It added that it has seen some “small pockets” of disruption from the wider supply chain issues, but is “working closely with our suppliers to manage this”.

The group said it is also managing “well” the more difficult recruitment market and cost inflation, with wages increased as expected in line with the national minimum wage and energy costs fixed for at least the next five months.

Chief executive Andrew Andrea, who took over from Ralph Findlay on October 3, said: “We are encouraged by the trading momentum which we have experienced since April and pleased to be trading robustly and above 2019 levels again.

Andrew Andrea took over at the helm of Marston’s on October 3 (Marston’s/PA)
Andrew Andrea took over at the helm of Marston’s on October 3 (Marston’s/PA)

“Our business benefits from an optimally balanced pub estate of food and wet-led pubs that are predominantly suburban, community-based and well located for the changes in consumer behaviour that we are seeing.

“However, we are mindful of consumer confidence in the short term and the challenges impacting the economy and our industry.”

Marston’s said it has benefited from having an estate largely comprising community sites across the UK, rather than London and city-centre pubs, which have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

It added that accommodation sales have been “excellent” due to a buoyant staycation market during overseas travel restrictions.

The group also said the Wales-focused Brains pub estate it bought earlier this year has traded better than expected since the easing of pandemic restrictions.