Marston's receives boost from strong Christmas trading performance

Marston's PLC has bucked the trend seen by some other pub groups after reporting positive sales for the festive period.

Some of the Marston's beer range
Some of the Marston's beer range

Marston's, with a head office in Wolverhampton, said like-for-like sales for the 16-week period to January 21 were up 12.9% compared with last year, including the impact of the Omicron variant in December and January last financial year.

For the five key festive days – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day – it said like-for-like sales were up 26% compared to last year and up 12.9% against the 2019/20 festive period.

Total retail sales in the Group's managed and franchised pubs were up 14% on last year and up 7.3% on 2020.

The company said drink sales have continued to outperform food sales, reinforcing the steadfast trading resilience of its predominantly community pub estate.

The Group added electricity costs are now hedged for the entirety of FY2023 until the end of September 2023, with no change to earnings guidance.

Gas price is fixed until the end of March 2025 with no additional incremental spend anticipated.

St John's House at St John's Square, Marston's new head office

Andrew Andrea, CEO, said: "We have continued to see positive sales momentum through the festive season and into the New Year, with particularly strong demand on the key Christmas and New Year trading days.

"Whilst we still have certain cost challenges to navigate in 2023, we are well-positioned to continue to progress our strategy and are encouraged by the level of consumer resilience experienced to date.

"The pub clearly remains an affordable treat which is attractive to consumers, and we continue to see good traction from those sites within our portfolio which have been converted to our Signature format.

Marston's pub estate is well-invested, and our geography and proposition lends itself to benefit from underlying consumer trends. Whilst still early in the New Year, trading momentum continues to build, and our primary focus remains to meet our strategic goals of achieving £1 billion sales and reducing our debt to below £1 billion with all the subsequent benefits that both of those milestones will bring to our shareholders."

City Pub Group (CPG), which runs 44 premium pubs across southern England and Wales, said sales were up 7.8% in the last three months of 2022, compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, after a boost over Christmas and the Football World Cup.

CPG added: “The performance would have been even better had it not been for the rail strikes, especially those towards the end of the year, where we estimate lost revenue to be in the region £750,000, or 3.5% of revenue for the fourth quarter.”

The company said energy costs rose “substantially” in 2022, but had started to reduce since the start of the year.

Earlier this week, Fuller’s warned over annual earnings after train strikes left it nursing a sales hit of around £4 million and impacted its festive trading.

The group said sales in the four weeks over Christmas and new year fell 5% compared with the same period in 2019 before the pandemic struck.

It blamed the drop on the train strikes in the lead-up to Christmas.

It said that, since the start of October, industrial action has reduced its sales by some £4 million and added the “consequent impact on profitability means that we now expect to report earnings below market expectations for the full year”.

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