Bottled ales boost Marston's

Strong growth in premium bottled ales helped Marston’s brewing division boost operating profits by 3.9% in the year to October 3.

Revenue from the brewing operation passed the £100 million mark, with an increase of 13.2% to stand at £101.5 million.

Premium ale sales increased by 26% overall and by 50% in the take-home market, though the shift in sales mix towards the take-home market saw operating margin fall 1.4% to 15.8%.

Chairman David Thompson said: “Strong volume and profit growth were achieved following the acquisition of Wychwood Brewery in 2008, which more than doubled our share in the growing bottled ale segment to position Marston’s as the market leader.”

Underlying group operating profit was 5.7% down on a year earlier, at £147.4 million, reflecting a weaker performance in the Marston’s Pub Co.

Chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “This was a creditable performance in a very challenging period.

“The improvement in trading we experienced over the second half-year has continued in recent weeks.

“Although we are cautious about predicting recovery, we have good pubs and popular regional ales which are performing well.”