Pub company Marston's has reported encouraging trading for its full financial year, despite a difficult environment, and plans to open 25 new pub-restaurants this year.
The group, which runs more than 2,150 pubs across the UK, said like-for-like sales for the year ended 1 October rose on strong demand for pub meals, which now account for 42% of total sales. It reported an increase in like-for-like sales in its managed pubs division of 2.9% from last year, with food sales up 5% and wet sales up 1.8%.
Marston's said earnings before tax and exceptional items were in line with its expectations, with improvement in all trading divisions.
In its beer company, its own-brewed beer volumes rose 2% from last year, outperforming the ale market, which was down 6%.
Like-for-like sales for the 10 weeks to 1 October 2011 were up 2.9%, including a 2% rise in food sales.
At Marston's Pub Company, the group's tenanted and leased pubs division, like-for-like profits are estimated to be 0.6% ahead of last year.
Chief executive Ralph Findlay said, "We have been very encouraged by the performance of all areas of our business this year. The objectives of our clearly defined strategy are sustainable growth, higher investment returns, and reduced gearing."
By Kerstin Kühn
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