Marston's premium focus has paid off as the pub group's sales are on the up, while the Euro 2016 tournament was a surprise driver of sales over the most recent quarter.
Like-for-like sales at Marston's destination and premium pubs were up 2.5 per cent in the 42 weeks to 23 July, the company said today in a trading update.
Of this, like-for-like food sales growth reached 2.1 per cent while drinks growth rose by 2.6 per cent.
In the most recent 16 weeks, the pub group said its like-for-like sales were driven up 1.8 per cent by the Euro 2016 football tournament, which the company had anticipated would have an adverse impact on its food-dominated branches.
Like-for-like sales at its taverns were up 2.8 per cent, also lifted by Euro 2016, while leased pubs grew two per cent on the same period of last year.
It was Marston's brewing arm that outshone over the previous nine months however, registering growth of 14 per cent year-on-year.
The company also said it remains on track to meet its growth target and open 22 pub restaurants and bars in the current financial year, in addition to six lodges.
Marston's share price was up 2.5 per cent in mid-afternoon trading to 142.7p.
Why it's interesting
Marston's, which has an estate of more than 1,500 pubs across the UK, has deliberately moved its attention outside of London to the regions and heavily invested in its premium enterprise – which is now paying off.
The company's brewing sales are still on the up after its acquisition of Thwaites in March 2015, which drove the firm's underlying profit higher in its half-year results. Marston's counts Pedigree and Hobgoblin beers among its offerings.
Chief executive Ralph Findlay said today although "much has been written about the potential effect of Brexit on consumer confidence", the company has not seen "any discernible impact on trading to date".
Read more: Marston's just took another gulp of Thwaites
Marston's also said it believes its focus on value and "affordable treats" is appropriate for the UK's current pub market.
The company also said the newly-introduced Pubs Code, which will allow pubs to break the traditional beer tie, is "not expected to have a material impact" on its leased estate.
What Marston's said
We continue to be encouraged by our performance. As expected, Euro 2016 was broadly neutral for the group as a whole and we have continued to maintain our market outperformance by focusing on offering our customers great experiences and value in modern pubs and bars.
In brewing, we are growing in an attractive market, demonstrating the effectiveness of our new product development and the appeal of our brand portfolio, underpinned by industry-leading service.