PUB group Marston’s has said trade has lifted above pre-pandemic levels, while it reported “pockets” of supply chain disruption.
The firm said like-for-like sales in the quarter from July 25 to October 2 were two per cent higher than those seen in 2019 across its estate of around 1,500 pubs.
Marston’s update for overall trading in the full year to October revealed the impact of earlier lockdown closures, with total pub sales of £402 million down 22% on the previous year.
Marston’s said it has benefited from having an estate largely comprising community sites in the UK including across Scotland. Pubs were permitted to reopen for outdoor trading from April 12 in England and from April 26 in Scotland and Wales, and from May 17 indoor trading was permitted across all of the group’s pub estate.
The group said it is also managing the more difficult recruitment market and cost inflation, with wages increased as expected in line with the national minimum wage and energy costs fixed.
Marston’s said: “It has been well publicised that the wider industry is facing challenges in respect of staff recruitment and cost inflation, alongside supply issues. Whilst the labour market remains tight, particularly in city centres, we are currently managing this well.
“The national minimum wage increase was in line with our expectation of a resumption of the 5-6% increase, which we were observing before the pandemic. The majority of our 2022 costs are now contracted in, specifically gas to 2023 and electricity to the end of March 2022.
“With regards to supply chain challenges, we have seen some small pockets of disruption however, we are working closely with our suppliers to manage this.”
Andrew Andrea, the new chief executive who took over from Ralph Findlay, said: “We are encouraged by the trading momentum which we have experienced since April and pleased to be trading robustly and above 2019 levels again. Our business benefits from an optimally balanced pub estate of food and wet-led pubs that are predominantly suburban, community-based and well located for the changes in consumer behaviour that we are seeing.”
Marston’s shares closed flat at 72.8p.