Marston's toasts improved trading performance

Pub group Marston's said its performance since May has exceeded its expectations, thanks to Euro 2020, warmer weather and its outdoor seating.

The Euros football tournament has helped trade at Marston's pubs
The Euros football tournament has helped trade at Marston's pubs

The Wolverhampton-based company, which had seen bigger half-year losses compared with a year earlier, said easing of lockdown restrictions has helped it generate positive earnings and cash flow in May and June.

Following the lifting of indoor restrictions in pubs, Marston's, which has pubs across the region, said it reopened about 70 per cent of its entire estate and trading for the period to July 24 is now running at 79 per cent of 2019 levels.

In the first week of trading since restrictions were lifted further on July 19, Marston’s said it has seen a modest uplift in sales.

Over 90 per cent of Marston’s pubs have outside trading areas and the additional investment it has made in its ‘Inside Out’ plans to enhance external trading areas in autumn last year has positively impacted trade since reopening in April.

The firm said the Wales-focused Brains pub estate it bought earlier this year also "performed well" since the easing of pandemic restrictions.

Meanwhile, accommodation demand has been "excellent" as the firm has benefited from a jump in staycation holidays as international travel restrictions have kept holidaymakers in the UK.

CEO Ralph Findlay said: “The last 16 months have been extremely difficult, but we are delighted to be fully open again albeit taking our responsibilities seriously whist striving to offer our guests a genuine but safe pub experience.

Ralph Findlay, Marston’s CEO

"Pubs are social spaces, and for pubs to prosper we need to be able to offer conviviality, sociability and a place to celebrate which we can now do as of last week.

“That said, there are challenges ahead as the sector starts out on the road to recovery with the immediate short term continuing to be uncertain and operationally disrupted. The tone of government messaging will be an important influence on consumer confidence.

"At present, the message is one of caution. We believe that a government review of the business rates system is long overdue and that VAT reduction should be permanent since the hospitality industry remains one of the most heavily taxed sectors.

"This would assist an industry that has been hit hard and aid hospitality’s employment and development of young workers which will be a key part of the UK’s economic recovery.

“Despite these challenges the role that the pub plays in the social fabric and culture of Britain as demonstrated by the pent-up demand and the rapid return of customers, is needed as never before, and therefore we are confident in our future.”

Shares in the firm were 3.5 per cent higher at 86.45p in early trading.

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