Shropshire Star

Marston's benefits from investment in its community pubs

Pubs group Marston's is to press ahead with its strategy of investing in improving quality and consistency in its community pubs.

New chief executive Justin Platt

Since the pandemic there have been consumer lifestyle changes with a move in spend from city centre pubs to suburban pubs.

This has helped Wolverhampton-based Marston's which has a predominantly freehold pub estate and limited city centre exposure.

Also 90 per cent of Marston's 1,395 pub estate are community pubs.

Marston's new chief executive Justin Platt, who took over in January, said it left Marston's well positioned and focused to concentrate on this key part of its estate.

"We find people love going out to socialise and nipping round to their local or having lunch at our pubs with their friends.

"We want to deliver a great pub experience for our guests – and that is also great for our shareholders."

Mr Platt said the first half of Marston's financial year to the end of March had been very pleasing with pub operating profit growth of 22 per cent to £52.7 million on total revenue of £428.1m.

The majority of revenue and profits are expected to be generated in the second half and Mr Platt said that he was encouraged by the outlook with major sporting events including Euro 2024 set to help.

"We think that our pubs will be very popular for viewing the big football matches this summer," he added.

"We have invested in improving our outdoor spaces in the last 18 months and we think our gardens will do very well this summer.

"The other leg of our approach has been to massively improve our food venues. I really think that will help in the second half of the year."

Mr Platt said Marston's was continuing to invest to drive the great operating model in its pubs.

"The focus is on delivering fantastic pubs that people want to visit and when they do so will want to come back to," he emphasised.

Like-for-like sales in the last six weeks are up four per cent on last year and excluding the impact of the additional May bank holiday last year like-for-like sales were up 5.3 per cent.

Mr Platt said further progress had been made on reducing debt in the half year

The net debt reduced by £24.5 million during the first half of the year to £1.16 billion.

Debt reduction remains a key focus and Marston's is in the process of selling of £50m of assets, including pubs and land adjacent to its pubs.

The pubs group has come under fire for selling of The Crooked House at Himley, which was later demolished after a fire broke out last year.

The sale came before Mr Platt joined from Merlin Entertainments where he was chief strategy officer.

He emphasised: "We do believe in the protection of heritage pubs."

He stressed that the majority of pub sales would be of non-core sites that were going concerns.

Mr Platt stressed that nothing had been determined about disposals or investment in new pubs beyond the current programme.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.