Marston's cheered by 11.8% rise in profits
Two for One and Pitcher & Piano owner Marston's has toasted a double-digit hike in sales and profits after transforming its estate into pub-restaurants and premium bars.
The Wolverhampton-based pub and brewer, which operates around 1,600 pubs, posted an 11.8% rise in underlying pre-tax profits for the six months to April 2 as it was also boosted by last year's takeover of the Thwaites beer business for £25.1 million.
Marston's said its three-year revamp - which completed last year - was successfully "widening our appeal" as it focuses on selling food and family dining.
Group revenues rose 11.4% to £428.7 million on an underlying basis, with like-for-like pub sales up 3% across its managed and franchised estate, driven largely by food sales.
Its brewing arm - which makes Banks's, Marston's and Ringwood - saw underlying beer earnings surge by 16% after the Thwaites deal, with sales by volume up 22%.
Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston's, said: " We are encouraged by our first-half performance and are on track to meet our expectations for the year.
"In pubs, we have driven our growth by the organic development of pub-restaurants and franchise-style pubs, and more recently through investment in lodges and premium bars, widening our appeal."
Marston's said that recent trading was in line with expectations, although it is braced for "more challenging" comparatives over the second half.
The group, which employs around 13,500 people, also assured it was not planning to review staff benefits such perks and bonuses despite having to fork out extra cash for the national living wage.
It added that it was not expecting any major hit from the incoming legislation that will spell the end of tied pubs, with leased pubs making up around 15% of overall profits from the estate.
Shares lifted 3% as analysts at Numis Securities praised Marston's "very solid progress".