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23 Jan 2019 | 09:38

Marston's grows Christmas sales; to cut debt load by 2023

Pub owner and brewer Marston's said it had grown sales during the Chrismtas trading period, and planned to cuts its debt load by £200m by 2023.

Like-for-like sales in the 16 weeks to 19 January at the group's pub division grew 1.4%, including 5.7% over the Christmas fortnight. Pub margins were broadly in line on-year.

In destination and premium, like-for-like sales rose 0.5%, including 4.5% growth in the Christmas fortnight.

In taverns, like-for-like sales grew 3.2% including 8.1% growth over Christmas.

Volumes at Marston's beer company rose 3.5%.

Net debt would be cut to £1.2bn by 2023 via a reduction in new build investments, improvements in cash flow and the disposal of £80m-to-90m of non-core assets.

'Marston's continues to perform well and this is a creditable performance in a challenging market,' chief executive Ralph Findlay said.

'Taverns and the Beer Company both delivered strong trading over the core festive period in particular, continuing the trajectory of recent months, and our managed food-led pubs also returned to growth.'

'We operate in increasingly uncertain times from a political and macro-economic perspective and, as such, we remain cautious about the potential consumer outlook until there is more clarity.'

'However, we are confident of delivering further profitable growth this year, whilst focussing on our strategic priorities of generating cash and delivering our stated £0.2bn debt reduction target between 2020 and 2023.'

'In addition, we are committed to maintaining the dividend at the current level during this period and believe that the combination of these actions will drive long term value for shareholders.'

At 9:38am: (LON:MARS) Marstons PLC share price was -3.62p at 99.18p

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