Pub chain Marston's with 21 Scottish sites see trade push past pre-Covid levels
Trading at Marston's, the pub and inns chain with more than 20 sites in Scotland, has rebounded above levels seen before the pandemic struck thanks to the easing of Covid restrictions.
In a trading update, the firm said like-for-like sales in the quarter from July 25 to October 2 were 2 per cent higher than those seen in 2019 across its estate of about 1,500 pubs.
The hard-hit hospitality sector has received a welcome boost since the final coronavirus restrictions ended during the summer, though some track and trace and face covering regulations remain in place.
But Marston' s update for overall trading in the full year to October 2 revealed the impact of earlier lockdown closures, with total pub sales of £402 million down 22 per cent on the previous year.
It added that it has seen some "small pockets" of disruption from the wider supply chain issues, but is "working closely with our suppliers to manage this".
The group said it is also managing "well" the more difficult recruitment market and cost inflation, with wages increased as expected in line with the national minimum wage and energy costs fixed for at least the next five months.
Chief executive Andrew Andrea, who recently took over from long-standing boss Ralph Findlay, said: "We are delighted to be fully open again since trading restrictions were lifted in July.
“We are encouraged by the trading momentum which we have experienced since April and pleased to be trading robustly and above 2019 levels again.
“Our business benefits from an optimally balanced pub estate of food and wet led pubs that are predominately suburban, community based and well located for the changes in consumer behaviour that we are seeing.
“However, we are mindful of consumer confidence in the short term and the challenges impacting the economy and our industry. Government messaging will remain a key factor in determining sentiment.”
Marston’s has 21 sites north of the Border after building up its presence in Scotland in recent years.
The group noted that accommodation sales have been "excellent" due to a buoyant staycation market during overseas travel restrictions.