Marston's has strategically distanced itself from city centre pubs, acknowledging the unpredictable demand in these areas. The company's preliminary results for the 52 weeks ending 30 September 2023 showcase a positive shift, with like-for-like sales climbing 10.1% from 2022. This increase accompanies a notable rise in underlying profit before tax, which surged from £27.7m to £35.5m.
The company attributes this success to its focus on its core estate, which is "predominantly freehold" and minimally exposed to city centres. This strategy has significantly increased food and drink spending per customer, up 8.1% and 8.6%, respectively.
Innovation has been vital to Marston's growth, as seen in their trial of a franchise-style model in their food-led managed pubs. This move yielded sales that substantially outpaced the broader food business.
Marston's is poised for further cost savings, targeting at least £3m in full-year 2024, driven by energy usage and pub labour efficiencies. Despite the impending 10% increase in the National Living Wage next April, the company is optimistic about its Christmas bookings, which are already surpassing last year's figures.
The leadership baton will be passed to Justin Platt as the new chief executive on 10 January 2024. William Rucker, Marston's chair, expressed confidence in the company's trajectory, citing a 7% increase in like-for-like sales since the year-end and ongoing efforts to enhance efficiency.
With over 1,400 pubs and approximately 11,000 employees, Marston's demonstrates resilience and adaptability in a dynamic market.
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