Pub group Marston’s has reported a 3% increase in turnover to £1.2b in a trading update for the year ended 28 September 2019.
It said it anticipates flat year-on-year earnings and underlying profit before tax of around £101m, as a result of higher operating profits across its taverns and beer businesses offset by lower earnings in its destination and premium business. The preliminary results will be announced on 27 November.
Marston’s said it is “confident that the group is as prepared as it can be for a potential no-deal Brexit” and has implemented contingency plans, including stockpiling.
Total pub sales increased 3%, including like-for-like sales growth of 0.8% and the contribution from its pub expansion programme. In the most recent 10 weeks, like-for-like sales were up 1.9%.
Against a strong previous year, wet-led taverns pubs performed strongly with managed and franchised like-for-like sales growth of 1.9%, including growth of 5.4% in the last 10 weeks.
Like-for-like sales across its destination and premium business were 0.1% ahead of last year, with stronger drink sales offset by lower food sales. Premium pubs and bars performed well with growth across its Pitcher & Piano, Revere Bar and Revere Country brands.
In 2020, the group intends to accelerate its debt reduction target of £200m by 2023 and is therefore increasing its disposals guidance from £40m to £70m for the current financial year and expects underlying profit before tax in 2020 to be at a similar level to 2019.
Chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “Our drinks businesses have performed well, achieving further growth against an exceptionally strong 2018. Wet-led pubs have led the charge continuing their positive trajectory and food pubs have achieved modest sales growth…
“Our principal focus is on reducing our net debt by £200m and creating a high quality business that is cash generative after dividends and capital expenditure. We are making encouraging progress and have decided to increase the pace of our disposal programme this year to accelerate the achievement of this target.’’