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Pub group Marston's swings to profit as recovery from pandemic continues

Pub group Marston's has swung to a pre-tax profit and posted a significant revenue increase as it recovered from the pandemic.

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Chief executive Andrew Andrea

The Wolverhampton-based firm, which has pubs across the region, has posted a pre-tax profit of £25.6 million for the six months ended April 2 compared with a pre-tax loss of £105.5 million for the year-earlier period.

Revenue for the period rose to £369.7 million from £55.1 million the prior year. Sales returned to 97 per cent of pre-pandemic 2019 levels, despite restrictions over the Christmas trading period.

The company said it was managing inflationary challenges within its control, and was performing in line with expectations. Sales in the last six weeks have been slightly higher than 2019 levels despite the increase in VAT.

Marston's has added menu overhaul driving simplicity and efficiency without compromising guest satisfaction.

Chief executive Andrew Andrea said: “We are pleased that since restrictions lifted trading has largely normalised, enabling us to return to profitable trading, as well as focusing – and making considerable progress – on our strategic growth plans towards achieving £1 billion of sales. We remain on track to reduce the group’s debt by the end of FY2022.

"We continue to evolve our estate to maximise returns and will have transitioned away from the value food segment, our Two for One brand, by the end of September. Investment into our estate through conversions and refurbishments continued in H1, with a further eight projects scheduled in H2, targeting a minimum return of 30 per cent.

“Whilst mindful of the challenges which every hospitality business currently faces, trading remains stable and we look forward to an uninterrupted summer.

"We are navigating our way through cost increases, mitigating these as much as we can through cost efficiencies and pricing strategies, whilst welcoming customers back without compromise to the best Marston’s guest experience.

"The pub remains the home of affordable socialising and has continually proven its resilience in previous times of economic challenge.

"We are operating a 'business as usual' mindset, positioning the group’s balanced and well invested pub estate for future sustainable like-for-like growth over the medium to long term.”

Mr Andrea said Marston's was going to ramp up investment in its estate from 2023 onwards

The pub company is to move into its new headquarters in St John's House, Wolverhampton, in January.

Mr Andrea said Marston's was committed to investing in the city.

"We are really excited about the move to create a new home four our brilliant pubs business," he added.

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