Marston's pre-tax profits up 9.4% for first half year

Marston's pre-tax profits up 9.4% for first half year

Brewer and pub operator Marston's saw pre-tax profits rise 9.4% to £29m for the 26 weeks to 5 April 2014, as the company remains on track to open 27 new sites before year end.

Underlying group revenue for the firm was up 4.5% to £374.3m for the same period.

Like-for-like (LFL) sales in its destination and premium pubs were up 5.7%, resulting in a leap in operating profit of 18.2%, while the company's managed and franchised LFL sales were up 3.8%.

Commenting on the company's performance, chief executive Ralph Findlay said: "The first half year was good and current trading is strong.

"We are creating a higher quality pub estate which is delivering positive trading momentum and meets the expectations of today's customers. We opened 11 new pub-restaurants in the first half and remain on track to open at least 27 in total this year. Our 100th new pub built since 2009 will open this summer, with 5,000 jobs having been created.

"We are beginning to see some evidence of consumer confidence returning in the regions, leaving us confident of making positive progress for the remainder of the year."

Meanwhile Marston's strategy to dispose of its smaller, wet-led pubs has seen 286 properties sold for £116m.

Net debt at the period end was £1,190m (2013: £1,194m), which includes £155m of structured long-term lease financing, an arrangement that has the characteristics of property leasing whilst retaining the benefit of freehold ownership.

The company said it aims to build 25-30 family pub-restaurants each year, investing around £80m-£90m annually. In response to the evolution of the pub dining market in recent years, Marston's has aimed to balance its food and alcohol sales.

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