BREWERY firm and pubs operator Marston’s today reported a 3% slide in annual profits.
But the company, which includes Pedigree and Jennings among its brands, said “robust” sales would mean better results in the new financial year.
Marston’s posted underlying pre-tax profits of £98m in the year to the end of September against£101.5m for the previous 12 months.
The results partly reflected a £2m hit to meet the cost of flood damage to its pubs during the summer.
Marston’s – formerly Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries – said like-for-like sales rose by 4.6% in the year, against a “challenging background” of severe flooding and the introduction of the English smoking ban.
The company, led by chief executive Ralph Findlay, said its preparations for the smoking ban helped current trading stride ahead of last year in its Marston’s Inns & Taverns chains.
Like-for-like sales rose by 2.1% over the past two months, with food sales up 9.1%.
However, the firm sounded a cautionary note over the possible effects of the smoking ban in the winter months and raised concerns over consumer confidence.
Full year profits were just shy of the £100m forecast by analysts before Marston’s warned last month that the flood damage would have an adverse impact on its results. It also faced pressure from rising interest rates after a 1% rise in the cost of its £500m banking facilities.