PUB AND and brewing company Marston’s said yesterday it will sell 202 pubs to property group New River Retail for £90m as part of efforts to reduce debt and help pay for its new pub-restaurants.
Marston’s, which has 2,100 pubs in the UK, said it was trying to shift from pubs focused on drinking to pubs selling food and drink to attract more women, families and older customers.
“We are managing that transition from the kind of pubs where people used to go, but don’t go to anymore, to those where they do,” chief executive Ralph Findlay said.
Findlay also said the sale would allow the company to cut debt servicing costs and also help with financing the accelerated rollout of its new pub-restaurants, which are achieving good returns.
The group, whose outlets include the Pitcher and Piano chain, reported a one per cent rise in underlying profit for the year to 5 October to £88.4m, slightly below forecasts for profits of £90.45m. Marston’s built 22 new outlets this year and now intends to open 25-30 new food-focused pubs a year.