Marston’s shrugs off economic woes as sales rebound from Covid slump

Marston’s shrugs off economic woes as sales jump above pre-Covid levels after punters return to their local pubs

  • Retail sales in the 10 weeks from 24 July to 1 October were 3% up vs FY2019
  • Growth was ‘driven by drink sales’, not food ‘due to hot weather’
  • Overall, total like-for-like sales for the 52-week period were down 1% vs FY2019

Marston’s like-for-like sales are now 3 per cent above pre-Covid levels with customer demand ‘remaining encouraging’ despite economic uncertainty. 

The Wolverhampton-based pub and brewing business said retail sales in the 10 weeks from 24 July to 1 October were 3 per cent up versus 2019 and 4 per cent up on last year.

Growth was ‘predominantly driven by drink sales’, while there was less food ringing through the tills ‘due to hot weather’, Marston’s said.  

Pub and brewing retail business Marston’s has revealed that like-for-like sales were up 3 per cent from pre-Covid levels with the level of customer demand ‘remaining encouraging’

Marston’s shares were up more than 4 per cent and trading at 37.27p by late morning on Tuesday.

Overall, total like-for-like sales for the 52-week period were down 1 per cent versus 2019. 

The business said, as previously reported, that ‘this reflects the impact of trading restrictions in December and January as a result of Omicron and the corresponding impact on consumer sentiment in H1’. 

Looking ahead, the group said its strategy is to offer ‘affordable pub experiences’ for guests in ‘a quality environment both inside and out’.

It added that it picks ‘predominantly community-based locations’ for its pubs so they are ‘well-placed to meet the challenging consumer environment’.

Marston’s CEO Andrew Andrea said the results show that the company is in ‘good shape and well positioned to navigate the future.

He added: ‘This is a good performance, with the trading momentum we experienced in the Summer continuing. 

‘Marston’s has a long-term capital structure which is well suited to the current market environment and we remain committed to our debt reduction strategy with which we continue to make progress. We are managing cost inflation well with food, drink and energy costs covered for the immediate future.

‘Whilst we are not complacent and can’t predict what the future will hold, what is clear is that people want – and are continuing – to visit our predominantly community pubs. 

‘The level of customer demand we are experiencing is encouraging which underpins our confidence that our strategy is working and we are making positive progress in that regard. 

‘Looking forward, we are primed to maximise the trading opportunities provided by the forthcoming World Cup and first restriction-free Christmas in three years.’

To try and minimise outlays moving forward, the company has decided to fix its energy rates for the upcoming winter and secured an agreement to set its gas bills until the end of March 2025. 

Having been part of the British pub landscape for over 180 years, the company grew from a local family run business to a PLC.

Today it has more than 1,500 pubs and 12,000 employees across the UK.