Growing food and booze sales give festive cheer to Marston’s

MARSTON’S yesterday became the latest pub chain to report strong trading over the Christmas and New Year period, with like-for-like sales up 4.1 per cent.

Food sales grew by 5.6 per cent in the 15 weeks to 18 January, the firm said, while at its more drinks-led managed pubs’ sales were up three per cent.

“Operating margins are slightly ahead of last year and our accelerated plans for 25 to 30 of our new-pub restaurants in the current financial year are on track, with eleven openings expected in the first half,” the company said.

The firm’s push to open more pub restaurants follows the £90m sale of more than 200 drink-led sites in November. Marston’s aims to raise a further £70m from pub sales this year.

The brewing arm of Marston’s is set to post profits slightly ahead of forecasts, the firm said, as a fall in volumes was more than offset by premium ales pushing up margins.

Spirit, Greene King, and Wetherspoons have already reported strong festive trading, helped by a mid-week Christmas.

Shares in the firm, which have risen 14 per cent in the last year, closed down 1.8 per cent to 150.5p.

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