Marston’s has welcomed being in the black, after trade at its pub estate recovered from the side effects of Covid-19 lockdowns this year.
In results for the year to 1 October, the community pub operator posted a total profit before tax of £163.4 m, versus a loss of £171.1m the year prior.
The operator of around 1,500 pubs said it had seen “encouraging” levels of Christmas bookings, with the venues anticipating the first Christmas in three years without Covid restrictions.
It was also hopeful about the benefits of an atypical winter World Cup, with the first two England World Cup games resulting in like-for-like drink sales up around 50 per cent versus the year before.
Sales over the last eight weeks have been elevated almost seven per cent on a like-for-like basis, the London-listed chain added.
Full year sales hit 99 per cent of 2019 levels, including a period of disrupted Christmas trading amid the Omicron variant Covid outbreak at the end of last year.
The company is aiming to return sales back to £1bn and slash its group debt by 2026, with bosses adding on Tuesday that they remained “confident” about these goals being able to drive value for shareholders.
Marston’s chief Andrew Andrea has previously told CityA.M. that a cost of living crisis would not deter thirsty Brits from enjoying their local pubs post-Covid.
“Having been locked up for two-three years, we are even more social animals,” Andrea said earlier this year.
“In times of economic challenge, people look for flight to value” he told CityA.M. Pubs were well placed to take up market share from restaurants as consumers pursue cheaper nights out, the CEO said.