Marston’s sales given festive lift

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Pedigree and Hobgoblin brewer Marston’s has joined rival pub chains in reporting strong sales over Christmas and New Year.

The Pitcher & Piano and Tavern Table firm said like-for-like sales at its managed pubs were up seven per cent in the eight weeks to January 21, driven by strong food demand as customers remained keen on affordable treats.

While the figures were helped by comparisons with the previous year’s wintry weather, Marston’s said it was encouraged by the result.

It added: “Our trading performance has been strong over the Christmas and New Year period. Profitability is in line with our expectations and we continue to make good progress in each of our trading divisions.”

In the beer business, the company said its brands outperformed the market with own-brewed beer volumes two per cent above last year and sales of bottled ale up seven per cent.

The company’s tenanted and franchised pubs also saw improvement with profits for the 16 weeks to January 21 up by around three per cent on a year earlier.

Rival chains Mitchells & Butlers and Greene King have also reported strong Christmas trading, although the industry is braced for another tough year.

Marston’s said: “We are expecting the challenging consumer environment experienced in 2011 to remain in 2012.”