BREWER and pubs chain Marston’s yesterday said that it was confident of meeting expectations for the year after a surge in food sales boosted trading.<br /><br />The group, which operates more than 1,700 pubs across England and Wales, reported a 2.3 per cent like-for -like sales growth in the six weeks to 1 August. <br /><br />The upturn in trading meant total sales were only 1.9 per cent below last year for the 43 week period to 1 August, compared to the 2.8 per cent decline previously reported for the first 26 weeks ending 4 April. <br /><br />Marston’s yesterday said that food like-for-like sales had lifted by 2.2 per cent in the 43 weeks and were up by six per cent over the last six weeks, due to promotions offering cheaper deals for cash-strapped diners. <br /><br />Food sales now count for 38 per cent of total retail sales. Sales of Marston’s own brew, Pedigree beer, also doubled over the period.