Pub group has ‘renewed optimism’ after £171m losses

Pub group Marston’s is adopting a glass-half-full approach after incurring pre-tax losses of £171m.

Its 1,500 pubs were only open for 28 weeks of the financial year, with revenues down proportionately to £424m.

However current trading is “exceeding” 2019 levels and the Wolverhampton-based group said encouraging Christmas bookings are helping it “look to the future with renewed optimism”.

Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s, said: “Whilst there are still some challenges to navigate over the months ahead, we believe the worst of the pandemic is now behind us and Marston’s has emerged a stronger, more focused business which is in great shape.

“Importantly, consumer demand for the pub and the role which this great British institution plays, at the heart of communities up and down the country, has never been stronger.”

Marston’s financial performance was improved by net proceeds of £228m from the disposal of Marston’s Beer Company to Carlsberg. The deal created the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, which Marston’s has a 40% stake in.

Andrea added: “Marston’s enters the year ahead as a focused pub business with a clear strategic plan, a profitable and cash generative business, a strong balance sheet and a 40% share in CMBC, our partnership with Carlsberg, which has such exciting potential.

“Our debt reduction plans remain on track and our well-invested, predominantly freehold, suburban pub estate is well placed to benefit from many of the positive consumer dynamics and drivers post pandemic.”