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Marston’s to sell pubs to focus on food

Pub group Marston’s, which recently moved into Scotland, is selling a further 200 pubs over the next year as it focuses on its “F-Plan” – a move to attract more families, foodies, females and forty to fifty year old.

The move to shed some of its 1,689-strong pub estate represents a further move away from traditional outlets focused on beer as the big pubcos face increasing pressures to attract customers.

Marston’s, which saw a 2.1% rise in like-for-like sales at food-oriented pubs in the last seven weeks, is following a trend for consumers with higher disposable income to eat out at pubs rather than in restaurants.  Mitchells & Butlers said this week that three-quarters of its turnover is from from food sales while the sale of drinks fell.

Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay will be hoping the shift in strategy helps reverse a 3.6% fall in underlying pre-tax profit for the year to 4 Otober. Despite that, the company is recommending a final dividend of 4.3p, against 4.1p last time.

He said the disposals would not interrupt plans to build 25 pub-restaurants each year. Marston’s has sold 388  pubs in the past year.


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