Pub operator Marston’s has announced its plans to cut £200m of debt in the coming years as part of its 16-week Q1 trading update for the period ending 19 January 2019.
Overall like-for-like sales grew by 1.4% over the period, with a 5.7% boost over the Christmas fortnight. Destination and premium sites saw overall like-for-likes increase by 0.5%, while sales in taverns grew by 3.2%.
Meanwhile the firm is looking to improve its cash flow by reducing net debt to £1.2b by 2023, a cut of £200m. The pub operator plans to reduce new-build investment to around £25m a year from 2020 onwards, while £80m-£90m of non-core assets will be disposed of between 2020 and 2023.
Chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “Marston’s continues to perform well and this is a creditable performance in a challenging market. Taverns and the Beer Company both delivered strong trading over the core festive period in particular, continuing the trajectory of recent months, and our managed food-led pubs also returned to growth.
“We operate in increasingly uncertain times from a political and macro-economic perspective and, as such, we remain cautious about the potential consumer outlook until there is more clarity.
“However, we are confident of delivering further profitable growth this year, whilst focusing on our strategic priorities of generating cash and delivering our stated £200m debt reduction target between 2020 and 2023. In addition, we are committed to maintaining the dividend at the current level during this period and believe that the combination of these actions will drive long term value for shareholders.”