Pub group Marston's toasts sales improvement

Pub group Marston's has seen sales continue to improve as people filled up its bars after lockdowns were eased.

The Marston's headquarters in Wolverhampton
The Marston's headquarters in Wolverhampton

The Wolverhampton-based firm, which has pubs across the region, said that since its pubs reopened, performance has improved, with business since April at 94 per cent of 2019 levels.

Between July 25 and October 2, overall sales were two per cent above the comparative period in 2019.

However, the pub operator said pub sales for the year ended October 2 fell on year to £402 million from £515 million. The company said its performance was significantly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, with its pubs only open for 54 per cent of the total business days.

During the lockdown period, Marston’s entered into an agreement to operate a portfolio of 156 pubs from SA Brain, under a combination of leased and management contract arrangements. These pubs reopened alongside the existing Marston’s pub estate in Wales and have performed well and ahead of expectations.

Accommodation sales have also been excellent benefitting from the growth in staycation holidays.

Marston's said the wider industry is facing staff-recruitment, cost-inflation and supply issues, and that particularly in city centres the labour market remains tight, but that it is managing any disruption well.

"The national minimum wage increase was in line with our expectation of a resumption of the five to six per cent increase, which we were observing before the pandemic. The majority of our 2022 costs are now contracted in, specifically gas to 2023 and electricity to the end of March 2022. With regards to supply chain challenges, we have seen some small pockets of disruption however, we are working closely with our suppliers to manage this," it said.

CEO Andrew Andrea added: “We are delighted to be fully open again since trading restrictions were lifted in July.

"We are encouraged by the trading momentum which we have experienced since April and pleased to be trading robustly and above 2019 levels again.

"Our business benefits from an optimally balanced pub estate of food and wet led pubs that are predominately suburban, community based and well located for the changes in consumer behaviour that we are seeing.

"However, we are mindful of consumer confidence in the short-term and the challenges impacting the economy and our industry. Government messaging will remain a key factor in determining sentiment.

“Looking ahead, we are now keenly focussed on our strategy of delivering exceptional experiences for our guests. We will continue to invest in our teams and pubs as we strive to meet our clear goals.”

The company's preliminary results will be announced on November 30 2021.

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