Marston’s: Trading has been ‘better than our expectations’

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Information sharing: Marston's boss Ralph Findlay says Government messaging will be an 'important influence'
Information sharing: Marston's boss Ralph Findlay says Government messaging will be an 'important influence'

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Pub group Marston’s has revealed that trading since the relaxation on Monday 17 May has been “better than expectations”.

It said overall sales have been encouraging, driven by a combination of additional food covers, outdoor investment, warmer weather and the benefit of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament. 

However, chief executive officer Ralph Findlay called for more Government action to help the sector and highlighted there were challenges ahead as the sector starts on the road to recovery. 

“The tone of Government messaging will be an important influence on consumer confidence. At present, the message is one of caution. We believe a Government review of the business rates system is long overdue and that VAT reduction should be permanent since the hospitality industry remains one of the most heavily taxed sectors,” Findlay said. 

Economic recovery

“This would assist an industry that has been hit hard and aid hospitality’s employment and development of young workers which will be a key part of the UK’s economic recovery.”

The news came in its trading update for the 42 weeks to 24 July 2021. 

It revealed that the Brains estate, which it acquired in February, had performed well since reopening, with trading trends mirroring those of the core Marston’s estate. Accommodation sales have been “excellent” Marston’s said benefiting from restrictions on international travel and the growth in staycation holidays. 

'Significantly disrupted'

Marston’s said the first half-year was “significantly disrupted” by the impact of the pandemic. In the second half year, it opened around 70% of its pubs when outdoor trading was permitted on 12 April in England and 26 April in Scotland and Wales. Its entire estate of about 1,500 pubs has been open since 17 May, when indoor trading with restrictions were allowed. 

It said that around 70% of its pubs have outside trading areas and the additional investment it made in its ‘Inside Out’ plans to enhance our external trading areas in Autumn 2020 positively impacted trade since reopening in April. It said that looking ahead, these investments should also enable the company  to benefit from increased outdoor trading in early Spring and late Autumn. 

Findlay added: “The last 16 months have been extremely difficult, but we are delighted to be fully open again albeit taking our responsibilities seriously whist striving to offer our guests a genuine but safe pub experience. Pubs are social spaces, and for pubs to prosper we need to be able to offer conviviality, sociability and a place to celebrate which we can now do as of last week.? 

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