Marston’s set to open more pubs

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Brewer and pub chain Marston’s today pledged to build another 25 pubs in an expansion drive set to create 1,000 jobs over the next year.

Brewer and pub chain Marston’s today pledged to build another 25 pubs in an expansion drive set to create 1,000 jobs over the next year.

The company, which employs 12,000 people and has an estate of 2,150 pubs under brands including Pitcher & Piano and Tavern Table, has been buoyed by “impressive” sales and profits growth over the last financial year.

During the period to October 1, it sold more than 26 million meals in its managed pubs - at an average spend per head of £6.10 - as customers went in search of “affordable treats” during the economic downturn.

Chief executive Ralph Findlay said the company’s strategy of opening purpose-built pubs would continue, following the opening of 19 pubs in the last year.

He added: “Pubs make a real contribution to employment, and the government can help by recognising that its policies on taxation, and beer duty in particular, are damaging to pubs, brewers and jobs.”

The Wolverhampton-based company reported a 9.4 per cent increase in underlying profits to £80.4 million in the year to October 1, after also reporting strong demand for its real ales including Pedigree and Bank’s.

It said its strong performance continued in recent weeks, with like-for-like sales up three per cent, compared to 2.9 per cent in the full-year.

The group said it will spend about £63m opening the pubs in areas of high traffic flow such as retail parks.

It has opened about 50 new outlets over the past five years, with food now accounting for 42 per cent of sales, up from 27 per cent in 2004.

While traditional pub meals are the mainstay of its food offering, sales of starters and desserts increased 17 per cent over the past year, driven by a move towards full table service.

The group said its managed estate of about 500 pubs saw average profit per pub rise 10 per cent to £145,000 last year, reflecting higher footfall.

Its beer company saw volumes rise two per cent, helped by higher sales of bottled beer, while Pedigree benefited from its sponsorship of England’s Ashes tour to Australia last winter.