Pub and hotel operator Marston’s has reported bumper sales over the Christmas period as Brits treated a pint as an “affordable treat”.
The historic London-listed firm, founded in 1834, said like-for-like sales were up 12.9 per cent on Omicron-affected 2022, for the 16 weeks to 21 January.
Marston’s has however experienced difficulties in this time also, with energy prices placing pressure on its finances.
Electricity costs are up, but the company said they are now hedged for the whole of the financial year until September, with no change in its earnings guidance expected. It added that the gas price it uses is also fixed until March 2025.
This comes after Fuller’s announced yesterday it had lost up to £4m over the festive period due to strikes, while UK hospitality’s chief executive said the impact of rail strikes on hospitality had been “unprecedented.”
Appearing to buck the trend, posting figures ahead of its AGM today, Wolverhampton-based Marton’s said in the first half of that 16 week period to November 2022 sales were up almost seven per cent, as traders were encouraged before Christmas.
In the eight weeks from mid-November until mid-January, sales went up 19.2 per cent compared to the previous year, proving to be a lucrative festive period for the company.
Compared to pre-Coronavirus sales in 2020, like-for-like sales were up 4.5 per cent.
It also reported that on the five key trading days during the festive break, namely, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, sales were up by more than a quarter against last year and 12.9 per cent on the previous year.
Marston’s, which operates 1,468 pubs and employed more than 12,000 said its total retail sales in the company’s chain of pubs were up 14 per cent on last year, while drink sales have significantly outperformed food.
“We have continued to see positive sales momentum through the festive season and into the New Year, with particularly strong demand on the key Christmas and New Year trading days”, said chief executive Andrew Andrea.
“Whilst we still have certain cost challenges to navigate in 2023, we are well-positioned to continue to progress our strategy and are encouraged by the level of consumer resilience experienced to date.”
“The pub clearly remains an affordable treat which is attractive to consumers, and we continue to see good traction from those sites within our portfolio which have been converted to our Signature format.”
The company said its estate remains “well-invested, and our geography and proposition lends itself to benefit from underlying consumer trends.”
Marston’s added that its “primary focus remains to meet our strategic goals of achieving £1 billion sales and reducing our debt to below £1 billion with all the subsequent benefits that both of those milestones will bring to our shareholders.”