The Wolverhampton-based pubco and brewer said the move was made in “anticipation of a disorderly Brexit”, highlighting corporate Britain’s persistent concern over the country’s divorce from the European Union.
Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay said the group had amassed “roughly three months’ worth” of stocks of the lager in a “very large” warehouse in Bedford, in a bid to avoid disruption to supplies.
He added if there was a “continued threat of a hard Brexit in October”, then Marston’s plans to launch another stockpiling operation of roughly the same magnitude.
Although the remainder of Marston’s drinks portfolio is largely Britain-based, Findlay told of the importance behind ramping up inventories of Estrella, in particular, to “meet growing demand” for the beer within the UK.
Marston’s sells about 250,000 barrels of the Catalan lager every year, having acquired the UK licence to sell it in 2017 during its £55m acquisition of Charles Wells.
Details of the stockpiling came as Marston’s, which has more than 1,500 sites nationwide, saw profit rise by 2% to £37m for the 26 weeks ending 30 March 2019, it revealed in its interim results yesterday (15 May) where it also reported a 5% lift in revenue to £553.1m.
The managed part of the business recorded an overall 2.2% increase in like-for-like sales, which included a 3.2% boost in the final 10-week period.
Its brewing arm also saw good results with revenue up by 8% and its operating profit increased by about the same.
The group also enjoyed strong trading over the unusually warm Easter weekend, which contributed to a “solid start” so far to the second half.
Earlier this year, Marston’s said it would scale back expansion as part of plans to tackle its debt pile and amid Brexit uncertainty.
The company said in January it aims to reduce its net debt by £200m to £1.2bn by 2023.