Brewer reports positive first half against ‘difficult backdrop’
Marston’s has seen revenues climb 5% to £553.1m in the first half of the year with pre-tax profits up 2% at £37m against what it described as a “difficult backdrop” which has seen the pub sector suffer from rising costs and weaker consumer confidence.
The Wolverhampton-based group, which brews ales such as Lancaster Bomber, Brakspear and Mansfield, said it has achieved underlying growth in all its divisions with like-for-like operating margins in line with last year.
Total managed and franchised like-for-like sales were up 2.2% with growth in both destination and premium and taverns, while the group’s beer business achieved 4.4% growth in own-brewed and licensed volumes.
The company also said momentum was maintained in the second half of the year on strong Easter sales.
Marston’s said it is making good progress on its debt reduction plan, targeting around £120m over the 2020-23 period, which will further reduce debt. Earnings growth achieved was also achieved in the period with H1 operating cash flow up 6% at £66.8m.
Ralph Findlay, CEO, said: “I am pleased to report continued growth across all segments of the business. Our Taverns wet-led community pubs have built on the strong trading performance last year and it is particularly encouraging to see our food-led pubs once again achieving increasing momentum in profitable like-for-like sales growth. Our leading Brewing business goes from strength to strength, winning new distribution contracts and continuing to grow market share.
“We remain focussed on our strategic objectives and good progress has been made with our stated aim to improve cash generation and reduce the group’s leverage. Whilst the backdrop of ongoing uncertainty around Brexit continues to be challenging, opportunities for growth remain and we are confident of delivering another year of profitable growth for our shareholders.”