Marston's appoints new Chairman as profits fall

Marston announced the appointment of new Chairman Roger Devlin as the UK pub retailer released its half-year results.

Marston announced the appointment of new Chairman Roger Devlin as the UK pub retailer released its half-year results.

Devlin will take over from David Thompson when he steps down on September 1st.

He is currently Chairman of internet gaming business Gamesys, sports media group SIS and Porthaven Nursing Homes.

The news came as the company reported underlying pre-tax profits of £27.6m for the six months to March 30th, down from the previous year's £33.5m, reflecting a £4.9m increase in interest costs.

Underlying operating profit decreased by 1.0% to £66.6m as higher profits from the new-build programme was offset by weather-affected trading across the pub estate in the second quarter. The company expects at least 20 new-builds to be completed this financial year.

Underlying basic earnings per share declined to 3.8p per share from 4.7p.

Nevertheless, group revenue rose to £358.1m from £342.1m, driven by an increase in like-for-like food sales and ale volumes in brewing.

During the period, the group transferred all its pubs into one trading division with annual cost savings expected to be around £3.0m a year.

Net debt at the end of March was £1.19bn, up from £1.24bn the prior year, which includes £101m of new long-term lease financing.

Marston's issued an interim dividend of 2.3p per share, a 4.5% rise on the previous year's 2.2p.

"Although the first half of this year has been significantly impacted by the poor weather in January and March, our focus on quality and good service at reasonable prices is what consumers are looking for," said Chief Executive Ralph Findlay.

"This underpins our clearly defined and proved strategy as we continue to drive growth through building new pub-restaurants, developing franchises, and benefiting from market trends in brewing."

He said trading in the second half has started well and the company is confident it will achieve its full-year targets.

Shares fell 2.36% to 148.80p at 11:21 Thursday.

RD

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