Marston's toasts a fine festive season

 
Steven Scott
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More pints were sunk at Marston's pubs over the Christmas and New Year period (Source: Getty)

Marston’s said it was on track to open 20 more pub-restaurants and bars and five lodges this financial year after “encouraging” festive season trade.

But analysts warned the pub company could face tougher conditions and may need to rely on its value outlets Two For One and Carvery for growth as consumers tighten their belts.

Read more: Average Christmas booze spend is 51 per cent tax

The pub owner and brewer reported better than expected trading in the 16 weeks to January 21 at its annual general meeting today despite tougher conditions over Christmas and New Year.

Like-for-like sales were up 1.5 per cent from last year, including food sales growth of 0.6 per cent and wet sales growth of 1.4 per cent.

Read more: Pour another one for Marston's as own beer brands post double-digit rise

Managed and franchise pub sales were up to 1.5 per cent and profits in leased outlets were estimated to be up two per cent.

Sales of the company's own-brewed beers were up three per cent.

Marston’s has not changed its full-year expectations after the results.

The pub owner's chief executive Ralph Findlay described the festive season trading results as encouraging.

“We traded well over the Christmas period with like-for-like sales growth for the fifth successive year despite tough comparatives,” he said.

“In brewing, we have continued to outperform and once again have achieved good growth with a particularly strong performance in the off-trade.”

Edison Investment Research warned the company could struggle to maintain this level of growth but added its discount outlets could benefit as customers looked for better value.

“With the rise of inflation and a downturn in household income, growth like this cannot be taken for granted for the rest of the year,” Edison Investment Research analyst Paul Hickman said.

“Nevertherless, Marston's is a significant operator of value offers, for example in its Two For One and Carvery brands, which should play relatively well in a more constrained consumer economy.”

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