Marston’s sees family boost

PUBS and brewing group Marston’s reported a rise in profits thanks to increasing food sales and families opting for cheaper meals out.

Marston’s underlying profit before tax rose nearly 15 per cent to £33.5m in the half-year ending March 31, it said on Thursday.

The company credited its “F-Plan” - a strategy focusing on food, families, females, and forty/fifty somethings - for spurring its growth this year, including an 11 per cent increase in the number of main meals served and an eight per cent increase in children’s meals.

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“Importantly, the majority of the growth in food sales has been achieved through higher sales volume rather than through price increases,” the company said.

The company said like-for-like sales in the 32 weeks to May 12 rose 2.4 per cent in the company’s managed house division.

Managed pubs are run directly by the company and have greater pricing freedom.

It estimated that profit at its tenanted and franchised businesses rose around three per cent in the same period.

Revenues rose to £342m, up from £318m in 2011.

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The company, which employs 12,000 people and operates around 2,150 pubs across England and Wales, raised its interim dividend to 2.2p per share, up five per cent from last year.

Shares in Marston’s have risen four per cent since the start of the year, compared with a 12 per cent rise in the FTSE Mid 250 Index.