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.