City briefs: Marston’s; Likewise

Pub group Marston’s has seen its operating profit grow, thanks to a strong demand from pubs in the local community.

The operator of 1,440 pubs saw sales in the first half of the year up by 10.7% resulting in an operating profit of £43.1m (H1 2022: £39.9m).

It also reports a smaller loss with a loss before tax of £3.6m (H1 2022: £7.5m)

Marston’s energy costs have been secured with electricity fixed until end of H1 2024 and gas until end of March 2025. It’s attempting to offset other costs through efficiencies and pricing strategies.

Following a strategic asset review, Marston’s expects to dispose of £50-60m of non-core and unlicensed properties. In this period, £24.3m has been generated from these disposals, which achieved a price 39% higher than the net book value; earnings related to these properties were expected to be £3m in the second half of 2023 and £6n in 2024.

Andrew Andrea, CEO said: “Our H1 performance clearly demonstrates that consumers remain as keen as ever to celebrate – and socialise within – the Great British Pub. 

“The macro environment is becoming increasingly stable and recent evidence suggests that both the cost outlook, and consumer confidence, are steadily improving. 

“The actions we are taking are building a demonstrably better business and Marston’s predominantly community pub estate continues to benefit from changing consumer lifestyles. 
“We continue to deliver upon our clear strategic objective to reduce debt and progress our path to profitability, albeit the seasonality of our trading profile means that the majority of the Group’s profit is characteristically H2 weighted”.

Sales for floor covering giant Likewise Group more than doubled in 2022, reporting a 104% increase with turnover up to £123.6m.

The firm, which launched in January 2019 by former Headlam directors Tony Brewer and Andrew Simpson, includes other businesses such as Lewis Abbott, Factory Flooring, H&V Carpets, A&A, Valley Wholesale Carpets, and the recently acquired Delta Carpets.

Chief executive Tony Brewer said the result was driven by continued investment into sales and marketing initiatives and an increase in distribution capacity from eight million cubic feet in 2021 to 15 million cubic feet.
Underlying profit before tax was up 84.8% from £1.38m in 2021 to £2.56m.
Brewer said: “Likewise Group is now clearly established as a leading company in the UK flooring industry and is well on target to achieve its medium term targets.
“Sales revenue for the first four months of 2023 has shown a further increase of 17.8% over the corresponding period last year, reflecting strong performance against macro-economic headwinds.”
Brewer concluded that thanks to the positive start to the year, the firm has “undoubtedly gained market share.

“This has been achieved through continually increasing market presence and the success of our experienced sales teams throughout the UK, supported by the logistics infrastructure being established”.