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Bumper Christmas helps boost profits of brewer

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 21, 2014

Ralph Findlay - WD Brewery

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A BURTON-based brewing giant enjoyed a record breaking Christmas - leading to an ‘encouraging’ set of financial figures.

Marston’s, based in Shobnall Road, revealed that it served an incredible 55,000 meals on Christmas Day - which was a first for the firm - and had enjoyed ‘good’ trading during the festive period.

The company enjoyed a 3.3 per cent increase in trade during the Christmas and New Year period, continuing a recent rise in sales of both food and drink.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive, said: “We traded well over the Christmas period as customers responded to our excellent value festive offers, with 55,000 meals served on Christmas Day - a record.

“Our performance in the first quarter has been good and, encouragingly, we have achieved growth in each of our key trading divisions. We continue to strive to ensure that our pubs and beers meet the high standards our customers expect and provide outstanding value for money.”

In destination and premium pubs, like-for-like sales were 4.1 per cent ahead of last year. Like-for-like food sales grew by 5.6 per cent and wet like-for-like sales grew by 2.2 per cent.

In the key three-week Christmas period to January 4, trading was strong with growth of 3.3 per cent, following 5.8 per cent growth in the corresponding period last year.

Operating margins are slightly ahead of last year and the firm’s accelerated plans for 25 to 30 of its new pub restaurants in the current financial year are on track to be completed.

In its taverns division, managed and franchise pub like-for-like sales were 3.0 per cent ahead of last year, with strong Christmas and New Year trading.

In its leased division, profits are estimated to be around one per cent ahead of last year.

The brewing of the arm, although volumes are just below last year, continued growth in premium ales, which has benefited operating margins.

This resulted in profits being slightly ahead of what had been predicted by bosses at the company.

A spokesman for the firm said net debt and cash flow were in line with expectations.

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