Marston’s losses widen as more than half of its pubs remain closed

Pub operator and brewer Marston’s has reported it made a loss of almost £400million in the year to October due to the pandemic.

With more than half of its pubs remaining closed even after the end of the November lockdown, Marston’s warned of ‘challenging and uncertain’ winter months ahead as the UK remains under a three-tier system of Covid restrictions.

The owner of Pitcher & Piano, which said around 780 of its 1,368 pubs are still shut, unveiled pre-tax losses of £397.1million in the 12 months to early October, up from £20.1million a year earlier.

‘Uncertain’ winter months ahead: More than half of Martson’s pubs are are still closed

Marston’s, which also brews Wychwood Hobgoblin, Pedigree Amber Ale and Revisionist craft lager, said that over £300million of the year’s losses were attributable to impairment charges triggered by the Covid pandemic.

Revenues fell 30 per cent to £821million over the year, from £1.17billion the year before, as a result of pubs having to shut down during the first lockdown in April.

In October, the Wolverhampton-based group announced it would axe 2,150 jobs, one of the biggest cuts in the sector since the pandemic began.

Chief executive Ralph Findlay said 2020 had been an ‘extraordinarily difficult year’ for the industry but claimed demand was strong and people would come back to pubs once they are allowed to.

He also said the company stood to benefit from its estate mostly being located outside of city centres.

‘There is clear evidence that consumer demand for our pubs remains strong and our geography, as a predominantly community pub operator with 90% of our well invested, high quality pubs located outside city centres, leaves Marston’s well placed to leverage the market opportunities available to us over the medium to longer term, he said.

Wolverhampton-based Martson’s said it stood to benefit from its estate mostly being located outside of city centres

Over the short-term, however, uncertainty remains as it all depends on Covid restrictions across England, Wales and Scotland.

And Government support through reduced VAT, business rates holiday and other taxes ‘remains necessary’, the company said.

Shares in Marston’s fell 2.8 per cent to 68p by 11:15am on Thursday.

In October the company completed a £780million deal to create a brewing joint venture with Carlsberg.

The Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) was born, with Carlsberg UK owning 60 per cent of the new venture and being able to sell their drinks in Marston’s 1,400 pubs and bars.

Greg Johnson, an analyst at Shore Capital, said: ‘We believe that the Marston’s estate is well positioned to benefit from the likely trends to emerge post-Covid, notably the ongoing switch in consumption from city to suburbs.