Pub company slows pace of expansion as it hunts out cost savings

Marston’s is to slow its pace of its pub opening programme as it waits to see if recent “subdued” conditions continue.

It has also found cost savings worth £5m a year as it works hard “to mitigate ongoing cost increases”.

The Wolverhampton pubco now expects to open 15 pubs and bars and six lodges in the current financial year. In early summer it was projecting 20 new pub-restaurants, three premium Revere bars and eight lodges.

Marston’s told the stock market “this modest trimming of our openings programme reflects a degree of caution” but that its investment criteria is unchanged.

However it remains committed to expansion as a way of creating value for shareholders and says it has a good pipeline of sites beyond 2018.

It added that its new pubs “continue to open strongly” and sites opened in recent years are meeting expectations.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive at Marston’s, said: “Our priority is to focus on quality, service and standards. We are well placed to continue to implement our growth strategy through investment in higher quality pubs and bars and through our unrivalled beer brand range supported by high customer service standards.”

Sales and profits for the year to September were ahead of last year, it said, ahead of it revealing its financial figures next month.