Marston's has delivered an "encouraging and robust" performance despite continued economic uncertainty, as it saw like-for-like sales rise 2.4% in its managed pubs in the 23 weeks to 12 March 2011.
Food sales growth was the key performance driver once again, with a lift of 4.7%, while a rise in like-for-like wet sales was reported at 1.5% for the same period.
Like-for-like sales in the past seven weeks were 3.0% up year-on-year and operating margin was reported to be "slightly ahead" of last year.
Meanwhile, the tenanted and leased division Marston's Pub Company, saw like-for-like profits improve and are estimated to be 0.1% up on the previous year - a marked improvement on the 4% decline in the 2010 financial year.
This improvement was attributed to the ongoing rollout of the franchise-style Retail Agreement, which will be operating in around 190 pubs by the half-year. The profit performance of the pubs that will remain on traditional agreements for the long-term is also ahead of last year.
Volumes of Marston's own-brewed beers were up 4% on last year, compared with a UK ale market down by around 7%. Premium cask ale was up 5% but bottled ale sold into supermarkets was up 16%.
In the update, Marston's also indicated that it is on target to open 20 new pubs in 2011. Five new pub-restaurants have been opened to date with a further three expected to be completed in the next eight weeks.
Ralph Findlay, Marston's chief executive, said the performance of the group in the year to date has been encouraging. "Our consistent focus on offering our consumers value for money in high quality pubs, together with sector-leading shares in growth segments of the beer market, places us in a strong position for the future," he said.
By Janie Stamford
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