Pub giant Marston’s has said it performed ahead of expectations after reopening its venues indoors in May amid a boost from staycations and Euro 2020.
Shares in the company lifted after it told investors that total sales from May 17 to July 24 were at 92% of the levels seen in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.
The firm said reopening trade was “encouraging” as it benefited from “additional food covers, outdoor investment, warmer weather and the benefit of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament”.
Marston’s, which runs around 1,500 pubs across the UK, said strong drink sales had buoyed initial sales after the outdoor reopening on April 12.
Around 70% of its pub sites reopened under outdoor trading restrictions before its entire estate was able to welcome customers again in May.
The firm said the Wales-focused Brains pub estate it bought earlier this year also “performed well” since the easing of pandemic restrictions.
Meanwhile, accommodation demand has been “excellent” as the firm has benefited from a jump in staycation holidays as international travel restrictions have kept holidaymakers in the UK.
In the first week of trading since remaining trading restriction were lifted on July 19, the group has seen a “a modest uplift” in sales.
It said this is “clearly encouraging” but stressed that it is “too early” to extrapolate meaningful trends at this point.
Ralph Findlay, chief executive officer of the group, said he is “delighted” its sites are now fully open but said Government action is still needed to help the pub sector recover.
He said: “The tone of Government messaging will be an important influence on consumer confidence – at present, the message is one of caution.
“We believe that a Government review of the business rates system is long overdue and that VAT reduction should be permanent since the hospitality industry remains one of the most heavily taxed sectors.
“This would assist an industry that has been hit hard and aid hospitality’s employment and development of young workers which will be a key part of the UK’s economic recovery.”
Shares in the Wolverhampton-based firm were 3.5% higher at 86.45p in early trading.
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