Marston’s has reported a £3m drop in profit, despite a rise in revenue for this financial year.
In the year ending 28 September, underlying pre-tax profit fell to £101m, down £3m from £104m the previous year.
The group also reported a pre-tax profit loss of £20m, compared to the £54.3m profit generated in 2018.
Despite this drop in profits, the brewery did see revenues rise to £1.17bn, up from the £1.14bn reported in 2018.
This total increase of 2.9% reflected the “positive impact” of new openings and pub acquisitions, as well as like-for-like sales growth and a growth in brewing.
The group opened eight new-build pub-restaurants, 15 wet-led sites and two lodges in the past year, while like-for-like sales rose by 0.8% in both wet-led and food-led premises.
Marston’s welcomed this rise in the face of “challenging comparatives”, such as the 2018 World Cup and hot weather the previous year.
Meanwhile, production volumes in brewing increased by 1%. A reported 2.5 million composite beer barrels were delivered to one in four UK pubs by Marston’s throughout the year.
In further optimistic news, Marston’s also reported it was ahead of schedule in reducing its £200m debt, which it hopes to cut by 2023.
Ralph Findlay, CEO of Marston’s, said: “We are making good progress with our debt reduction plans and are ahead of schedule in meeting the accelerated £70m of disposal proceeds which we are targeting in the current year.
“We continue to benefit from Marston’s balanced business model and our Taverns wet-led community pubs and brewing businesses have both once again outperformed the market, building on an outstanding year last year.”
He added: “We are employing a renewed focus on the proposition in our food-led pubs and remain well placed to benefit from reduced supply in this market segment, of which there is beginning to be some evidence.
“Our principal focus remains to reduce our net debt by £200m by 2023 – or earlier – and the measures we are taking now will result in a high quality business which is cash generative after dividends and capital expenditure.
“Trading is on track for the initial weeks of the current year and we are well prepared for the all-important Christmas and New Year period.”
These preliminary results follows Marston’s announcement that it finalised a disposal agreement of 137 pubs.
In a £44.9m deal completed last week, Admiral Taverns acquired the non-core sites from Marston’s as part of its debt reduction plan.