Marston’s raises glass to ‘significantly improved’ trading

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Wolverhampton pubco Marston’s has reported “significantly improved” trading conditions since May 17 as it reported a trading update for the 42 weeks to July 24.

Following the lifting of indoor restrictions in pubs, Marston’s said it reopened around 70% of its entire estate and trading for the period to July 24 is now running at 79% of 2019 levels.

In the first week of trading since restrictions were lifted on 19 July, Marston’s says it has seen a modest uplift in sales.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive officer, said: “The last 16 months have been extremely difficult, but we are delighted to be fully open again albeit taking our responsibilities seriously whist striving to offer our guests a genuine but safe pub experience. Pubs are social spaces, and for pubs to prosper we need to be able to offer conviviality, sociability and a place to celebrate which we can now do as of last week.

“That said, there are challenges ahead as the sector starts out on the road to recovery with the immediate short term continuing to be uncertain and operationally disrupted. The tone of Government messaging will be an important influence on consumer confidence. At present, the message is one of caution. We believe that a Government review of the business rates system is long overdue and that VAT reduction should be permanent since the hospitality industry remains one of the most heavily taxed sectors. This would assist an industry that has been hit hard and aid hospitality’s employment and development of young workers which will be a key part of the UK’s economic recovery.

“Despite these challenges the role that the pub plays in the social fabric and culture of Britain as demonstrated by the pent-up demand and the rapid return of customers, is needed as never before, and therefore we are confident in our future.”

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