Marston's sales rise despite winter flurry

Brewer and pub operator Marston's said it was encouraged by its trading performance during the Christmas and New Year period, despite the pressures on consumer confidence, and expects to make good progress in each of its divisions.

Brewer and pub operator Marston's said it was encouraged by its trading performance during the Christmas and New Year period, despite the pressures on consumer confidence, and expects to make good progress in each of its divisions.

Overall profitability is in line with company expectations and it is confident of further progress, it said.

In managed pubs like-for-like (LFL) sales rose 1.2% for the 16-week period to January 19th from the same period last year despite the impact of snow.

LFL sales for the 15-week period to January 12th were 2.1% ahead of last year, including LFL food sales growth of 3.5% and LFL wet sales growth of 1%.

Marston's said trading over the festive period was strong including growth of 5.8% in the key three week trading period to January 5th and 10% on Christmas Day.

Operating margins are slightly ahead of last year and its plans for building new pub-restaurants in the current financial year remain on track.

Net debt and cash flow are in line with company expectations.

Chief Executive Officer Ralph Findlay said: "The results for the year to date are further evidence that our strategy is appropriate for the current environment and is generating consistent and encouraging results."

"We expect economic pressures to continue to constrain consumer confidence, and see no evidence that the Government recognises the damage being caused to pubs by high taxation and over-regulation. Nevertheless, we are confident of making further progress towards our objectives of sustainable growth, higher return on capital and reduced leverage."

CJ

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