- Pub company Marston's said it expected to post a fall in annual underlying profit and a flat result for the current financial year owing to increased spending on its properties.

Underlying pre-tax profit for the year through 28 September was seen coming in at around £101.0m, the company said.

Marston's did not provide a comparative figure, though last year it posted an underlying pre-tax profit for the full year of £104.0m.

Revenue was expected to rise 3% to £1.2bn, while Ebitda would be flat, with higher profits in the taverns and beer businesses offset by lower earnings in destination and premium.

Total pub sales increased 3%, including like-for-like sales growth of 0.8%.

In the most recent 10 weeks, like-for-like sales were up 1.9%.

For the current financial year, Marsten's said it planned to invest another £2m-to-£3m in pub training, localised pub team incentive initiatives and digital marketing investment.

It would also seek to accelerate its stated debt reduction target of £200m by 2023 by upping its disposals guidance to £70m, from £40m for the current financial year.

'We therefore expect underlying profit before tax in 2020 to be at a similar level to 2019, reflecting growth in underlying operating profits offset by increased disposal activity, additional pub investment and higher interest charges,' the company said.

'We will expand on the positive initiatives described above, together with the impact of the new lease accounting standard at the preliminary results in November.'

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