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Marstons reports annual growth led by wet-led pubs & brewing

Pub giant and brewer, Marston’s has posted an update on trading for the year ended 30 September 2017, showing growth in revenue and earnings led by the performance of wet-led pubs and brewing.

In Destination and Premium, like-for-like sales were 0.9% above last year. The more subdued summer trading and relatively stronger performance of wet sales compared to food sales was consistent with the market. A disciplined approach to pricing and promotions and good cost control contributed to the operating margin in Destination and Premium being only slightly below last year despite the continued cost pressures.

In Taverns, like-for-like sales were 1.6% above last year. These wet-led community pubs continue to benefit from greater consumer interest in local beers and craft drinks and the continuing development of its offers, together with the continued strong performance of pubs operated under franchise-style agreements.

In Leased, like-for-like profits are estimated to be up 1% compared to last year reflecting the high quality of the company's Leased estate, together with licensee stability.

In Brewing, the firm has had a transformational year including the successful acquisition of the Charles Wells Brewing and Beer (CWBB) business in June, and growth in distribution through entering into long term agreements including Punch B and Hawthorn Leisure.

The integration of CWBB is on track, and performance is in line with expectations. Own-brewed volumes increased 6% demonstrating the strength of the brand portfolio and the acquisition of CWBB, and contributed to market share growth in the on trade and the off trade.

The group completed 19 new pubs and bars and eight lodges. Openings were weighted towards the end of the financial year, and four pubs planned for September will open in late October.

In the 2018 financial year, Marston's now expects to open 15 pubs and bars, and six lodges. This modest trimming of its openings programme reflects a degree of caution given recent subdued market conditions, but its investment criteria are unchanged.

The new pubs continue to open strongly and the performance of those opened in recent years remains good and in line with targets. It has a good pipeline of sites beyond 2018.

Sales and profits for the year are ahead of last year, and Marston's targets further growth in 2018. There is no significant change to the cost trends highlighted previously, but it has identified cost savings of approximately £5m per annum including the recently announced reorganisation of the pub operational structure.

Ralph Findlay, Chief Executive Officer, commented, “Our priority is to focus on quality, service and standards. We are well placed to continue to implement our growth strategy through investment in higher quality pubs and bars and through our unrivalled beer brand range supported by high customer service standards.’’