Food and family focus drives pub sales up for Marston's

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Public house

Woverhampton-based brewer and pub operator Marston's has reported a large jump in sales driven in part by a focus on food and families
Woverhampton-based brewer and pub operator Marston's has reported a large jump in sales driven in part by a focus on food and families
Marston's has reported strong half year sales with an increased focus on food, families and female customers helping to drive pre-tax profits up by nearly 15 per cent.

In the 26 weeks to 31 March revenue for the brewer and pub operator grew by 7.6 per cent from a year earlier to £342.1m - a performance the company described as 'good' against a weak backdrop. In the same period profits broke the £30m barrier rising by 14.7 per cent to £33.5m.

Although the managed sites for the Wolverhampton-based firm, Marston's Inns and Taverns, continued to show the biggest profit growth with like-for-like sales up 3.6 per cent, the tenanted and franchised venues also continued to improve. The sites, under the Marston's Pub Company brand, experienced a rise in operating profit of 3.1 per cent.

The F-Plan

Marston's attributed the strong performance of its pubs to a focus on 'food, families, female customers and forty/fifty somethings' in a strategy it has coined 'The F-Plan'.

This, the operator explained, recognised the longer-term trends in the market which would help it maintain growth. Marston's revealed the food sales mix in its sites rose 2 per cent to 43 per cent in the period while the total number of meals served in the last year jumped significantly to 27.5m - a rise of 11 per cent.

In March the Marston's chief executive Ralph Findlay warned that he expected consumer sentiment to remain weak in 2012​ although there remained the potential for growth around big summer events.

However announcing the half year results, Findlay said Marston's plans on focusing on food and families and its strategies on new builds, franchise agreements and brewing left the business well-positioned to face the future.

"We have delivered a good performance in the first half year against a weak consumer backdrop. Our growth in revenue and earnings was underpinned by our strategic focus on delivering value, high service standards and a quality offering to our consumers and customers," he said.

Managed growth

Discussing the rise in like-for-like sales at its managed sites, Marston's said it had focused on attracting families and staff upselling skills - the number of children's meals grew 8 per cent while sales of starters, coffee and desserts all experienced double-digit growth.

Marston's invested £37m of capital in the period, £26m of which was on new build sites. The company remains on target to complete 25 new builds in this financial year and 20-25 in each year after that.

Franchise and brewing

Turning to the tenanted and franchised pubs, Marston's revealed 419 pubs had been converted to a new style of franchise agreements already with a target of 600 sites to be under the agreements by the end of 2013. Around 1,000 puns will remain on traditional tenancy and lease agreements.

Marston's, which controls the Pedigree and Bank's beer brands, reported increased revenue from its brewing arm - Marston's Beer Company. Within this the business reported success from its 'localness' strategy of selling locally-brewed beers and a growth in demand for premium ales.

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