Bad weather makes it a game of two halves for pub chain Marston's


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The Independent Online

Pub chain Marston’s today warned that first-half profits would not match last year’s because it had been hit so badly by the weather, but reassured investors that it expects to more  than make up any shortfall in the second half.

The group said: “Snow and exceptionally cold weather throughout the UK in the three months to the end of March inevitably affected trading across our pub estate, and we expect to report operating profit for the first half slightly below that of last year.”

Marston’s made operating profits of £67.6 million in the six months to March 2012, and analysts today said they now expected this year’s could be £1 million down on that.

This includes something like an extra £4 million in interest costs which the group had already disclosed.

However, Marston’s went on to say: “Trading has started well in the second half, and we expect to benefit from less-challenging sales comparatives for the remainder of the financial year.

“We have opened nine new pub restaurants in the financial year to date, and anticipate opening at least 20 by the end of the year which, combined with the rollover benefit of the back-ended 2012 programme, will generate additional profit in the second half.”

It also said it expected to make  a further £3 million of cost  savings during the second half of  its financial year.

Mark Brumby of Langton Capital said: “Should the sun shine at any point over the next six months or so, there remains considerable upside.”

The shares today climbed by 2.25p to 134.65p.