Marston's curtails expansion to reduce debt

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Debt reduction: Marston's said it would reduce its investment into new-builds over the next few years (image: Elliott Brown, Flickr)
Debt reduction: Marston's said it would reduce its investment into new-builds over the next few years (image: Elliott Brown, Flickr)

Related tags: Marston's pub company, Debt

Marston’s has scaled back plans to expand in a bid to slash its debt over the next few years, outlined in its latest trading report.

The pubco ​hopes to reduce its debt by £0.2bn over the next three years, which would leave it with a net debt of £1.2bn.

Investment in new-builds​ will be reduced to around £25m per year from 2020, the company said in its update for the 16-week period to 19 January 2019.

Accommodation focus

Pubs with accommodation are to be the focus of investment going forward as the company seeks to boost its returns.

It will also look to dispose £80-£90m of “certain non-core assets” in 2020-23, but would not clarify what these assets were.

Maintaining the dividend at the current level would be a focus for the company while it reduced debt, it assured shareholders.

Total pub like-for-like sales growth for the period was 1.4%, including like-for-like sales growth of 5.7% over Christmas, similar to the positive performance of other pubcos over the festive period.

The dry-led Destination and Premium division experienced a like-for-like sales increase of 0.5% in the trading period, including growth of 4.5% in the festive fortnight.

Taverns, the wet-led section, had a managed and franchised like-for-like sales growth of 3.2%, including growth of 8.1% during the Christmas period.

'Increasingly uncertain times' 

Ralph Findlay, chief executive, said the pubco had performed well in a challenging market and would continue to do so despite political uncertainty.

He said: “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, while focusing on our strategic priorities of generating cash and delivering our stated £0.2bn debt reduction target between 2020 and 2023."

Related topics: Marston's

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