Marston's broad base of casual dining pubs creates new opportunities and steers clear of industry headwinds

Courtney Goldsmith
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Over-investment in pubs and casual dining restaurants in cities like London creates intense competition. (Source: Marston's PLC)

City centres like London are oversaturated with pubs and casual dining restaurants, but investing outside the obvious locations opens up new opportunities, according to Marston's chief executive Ralph Findlay.

While the company's city centre pubs are performing well, analysts said Marston's broad geographic base is what will help the company meet the cost pressures and headwinds facing the industry.

Instead of investing in pubs and restaurants in metropolitan areas where competition is fierce, Findlay said his company chooses to target less competitive areas and put "the right pub in the right place".

Read more: How to do things differently in the pub industry

Each new opportunity is developed at a local level. Marston's can operate a carvery, a rotisserie or a pizza kitchen in its pubs depending on local preferences and the demographics of the area.

"It's harder work, but you end up with a better result," Findlay said.

New builds have driven the FTSE 250 company's growth, which Thursday reported profit before tax increased by seven per cent to £98m.

Read more: Despite headwinds in the pub sector, Marston's reports profit growth

The pub company has an estate of around 1,500 pubs and opened more than 150 new pub-restaurants since 2009.

In 2016, Marston's invested about £70m into new builds, and in the coming year the company plans to open around 20 new pubs and bars.

Findlay said Marston's pursues a broad market because it allows the company to learn more about the whole sector and it opens the door to more opportunities.

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