Brewer and pub operator Marston’s has said sales of its focus on local beers and premium ales has helped boost its business performance in a difficult trading environment.
In an interim management statement for the 42 weeks to 23 July 2011, Marston’s recorded “robust” performance and said it continues to make “good progress” in all its business divisions despite the market challenges.
Sales and profits showed single-digit increases on the same period last year, which chief executive Ralph Findlay said was down to the group’s value for money offering.
"We are encouraged by the resilience of our business in the year to date. Our focus on offering value for money with high service standards in a quality pub environment is generating strong consumer appeal and maximising returns on our investment programmes," he said.
Marston's Inns and Taverns, the group’s managed pubs division, recorded a 2.9 per cent increase in like-for-like sales, led by strong food sales. Food sales grew 5 per cent in the period, while wet sales grew 1.8 per cent.
Operating margins improved on last year, and like-for-like sales for the last ten weeks were also up 2 per cent, despite strong trading in the previous year, which was boosted by the World Cup and good weather.
Marston's Pub Company, its tenanted and leased pubs division, reported a modest “steady improvement” on last year.
Like-for-like profits are estimated to be 0.5 per cent ahead of last year, with the growth mainly a result of the rollout of Marston’s franchise-accredited Retail Agreement, which is now operating in around 300 pubs.
The profit performance of those pubs expected to operate with traditional agreements for the long-term remains ahead of last year, said the group.
In Marston's Beer Company, its own-brewed beer volumes increased around 2 per cent compared to last year.
According to the company, its focus on localness and premium ales contributed to this growth, with premium cask ale up 4 per cent.
Marston’s has also completed ten new pub-restaurants to date, and says that more openings are expected in the coming few years.
The performance of its new pub openings so far has been ahead of its original targets, said the group.