Marston's enjoys bumper Christmas

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Pubs chain Marston's said like-for-like revenues between December 23 and January 3 were up 11.2 per cent

Pubs chain Marston’s offered more evidence that Britons deserted the kitchen in favour of eating out over Christmas and new year.

The owner of Tavern Table and Pitcher & Piano joined Harvester and All Bar One chain Mitchells & Butlers in reporting bumper sales over the festive period.

Marton’s said like-for-like revenues between December 23 and January 3 were up 11.2% and offset the impact of snow disruption earlier in December.

Across the six weeks to January 8, like-for-like sales at its managed 485-strong managed pubs division were flat on a year earlier while the figure for the 16 weeks to last weekend showed an improvement of 2.1%.

Like M&B, which reported strong sales figures on Thursday, Marston’s said eating-out demand drove the recent improvement as food sales lifted 4.4% and drink revenues grew 1.2% over the 16 week period.

The company has benefited from its F-Plan strategy, which has seen it focus on “food, families, females and forty/fifty somethings”.

It is also capitalising on longer term trends towards more eating out, as food sales now account for around 38% of its revenues, up from 27% in 2004.

The Wolverhampton-based company added that profit trends in its tenanted and leased pubs division continued to improve, helped by the roll-out of new agreements that have given landlords more incentives to grow their business.

The division’s like-for-like profits are estimated to be around 1% lower than last year, compared with a 4% decline in the most recent financial year.

Sales of Marston’s-brewed beer, which includes Pedigree, Hobgoblin and Brakspear, were up 6% in the 16 weeks as the company pushed local and premium cask ales and saw a 20% surge in sales of bottled products.

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