Belfast Telegraph

Marstons raises glass to World Cup boost as sales rise 5%

The pubs group said good weather and football helped offset tough weather in April.

Marston’s has said its brewing business and drinks-focused pubs “benefited significantly” from the World Cup, helping make up for the effect of poor weather on sales earlier in the year.

The company said total sales across its managed and franchised pubs were up 5.2% in the half-year to July 21, helped by its pub expansion programme.

On a like-for-like basis, sales growth was up just 0.3%.

The pick-up was most notable in the last 16 weeks, when like-for-like sales grew 0.9% on the back of “good weather and the football”, although the boost was offset by poor weather in April.

Excluding April, like-for-like growth over the past 12 weeks was 2%.

We have a strong pipeline of sites which will contribute to continued growth in pubs Chief executive Ralph Findlay

Its leased estate, brewing business and wet-led pubs – those focused more on drinks than food – had the largest boost from the World Cup tournament.

There was a “negative effect” on its food-led pubs.

Marston’s Beer Company logged strong growth over the half year, with total volumes up 61%.

It benefited from the acquisition of Charles Wells Brewing, while its portfolio – including premium ales, world lagers and craft beers – increased market share.

Marston’s confirmed its full-year underlying earnings targets, and said it was on track to open 15 pubs and bars and six lodges over the financial year.

Chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “We are encouraged by our stronger trading performance in the second half-year, including the benefit of recent good weather and the impact of the World Cup in our Taverns estate and in Marston’s Beer Company.

“We have a strong pipeline of sites which will contribute to continued growth in pubs, and see further opportunity in brewing following the acquisition and successful integration of Charles Wells Brewing and Beer business in 2017.

“Our strategic objectives and progressive dividend policy remain appropriate for current market conditions and we remain confident of delivering underlying earnings in line with expectations for the full year.”

Shares were down nearly 3% in midday trading.

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