Pub group Marston's toast record profits after World Cup boost
Marston's has thanked a surge in pub-goers during the World Cup and heatwave for helping deliver a record annual profits haul.
The Wolverhampton-based firm, which has pubs across the West Midlands, said it is expecting to report underlying pre-tax profits of about £104 million for the year to September 29, up 3.9 per cent on the £100.1 million posted the previous year.
Marston's – which also owns the Two For One chain – said trading was boosted by a jump in drinks sales during the World Cup and the heatwave, which helped like-for-like sales rise 0.6 per cent in its managed and franchised pubs over the year.
Pub sales lifted 1.6 per cent in the final 10 weeks, while the group said its brewing business was also given a fillip over the summer, as sales by volume soared around 47 per cent.
The strong summer trading made up for the effect of poor weather on sales earlier in the year and offset weaker demand for food during the football tournament and searing hot weather.
The group is expecting to report record revenues of more than £1.1 billion – up 15 per cent year on year.
Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston's, cheered a 'strong year' for its pubs and brewing arm.
He said: "We have seen clear benefit from our balanced portfolio, having achieved good growth in wet-led pubs and from brewing, maximising the trading opportunities provided by the good summer weather and World Cup."
He added: "Although trading in destination food-led pubs was weaker, this predominantly reflects issues beyond our control relating to unseasonal weather extremes and the World Cup.
"However we are encouraged that our dining pubs are now seeing improving momentum and we expect to make further progress in 2019.
"We are meeting the demands of our customers and continue to manage the inflationary cost environment well, which gives us confidence for the future.’’
Marston's said its drinks-led pubs saw like-for-like sales rise 3.8 per cent, with comparable profit in its leased estate up about two per cent.
But the group's food-focused premium pubs suffered a 1.2 per cent drop in like-for-like sales.
It said trading in these pubs improved in the last 10 weeks, with like-for-like sales up 0.1 per cent.
Shares fell three per cent despite the bullish year-end trading update.
Analyst Greg Johnson, at Shore Capital, said the expected annual profits figure for Marston's is just shy of its £107 million forecast, but added that it is a 'solid' update.