Marston's boss says business rates holiday and VAT cut extension ‘a minimum requirement' for pubs to survive

08 January 2021 by
Marston's boss says business rates holiday and VAT cut extension ‘a minimum requirement' for pubs to survive

Marston's chief executive Ralph Findlay (pictured) has said the extension of the VAT cut and business rates holiday are "a minimum requirement" for pubs to survive current conditions.

Commenting on the group's first quarter trading for the 13 weeks ended 2 January 2021, in which the group reported total pub revenues of £54m, Findlay said it was "vital" that the government urgently reviewed support for the sector.

Despite this, he expressed confidence in the future of the business over the medium term and said it remained well-positioned to rebuild trading momentum once restrictions are lifted and leverage potential market opportunities.

The joint venture between Carlsberg UK and Marston's Beer Company completed on 30 October 2020 and initial proceeds of £233m were used to reduce debt. Despite ongoing disruption to trading, the pub group reported "significant liquidity" following the completion of the joint venture, with bank facility headroom of £176m.

Marston's also exchanged contracts with SA Brain to operate its portfolio of 156 pubs in Wales in December on a combination of leased and management contract arrangements.

Findlay said: "The pub sector has been closed for much of the last nine months and remains in a very difficult position. Regrettably there have been casualties across the sector and it is vital that the government reviews urgently the opportunity to continue to support pubs as we reopen the economy in the coming weeks.

"Pubs are viable businesses which are part of the social fabric of Britain and which make a major contribution to the economy and the communities in which they serve. It is vital that they not only survive the short-term crisis but are supported in order to recover and flourish. Extending the business rates holiday and VAT cut for the rest of this year is a minimum requirement."

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