StockMarketWire.com - Pub company Marston's said it had seen a return to sales growth in the fourth quarter of its financial year compared to the same period in 2019 following an easing of lockdowns.

In a trading update for the year through 2 October, Marston's said sales in the final three months of that year had risen 2% across its managed and franchised pubs compared to 2019.

'Since restrictions were lifted on 12 April, the group has seen a continuous improvement in trading,' Marston's said.

Overall, trading for the full financial year had been at 94% of 2019 levels, which the company said included the benefit of a temporary VAT reduction on food and non-alcoholic drink sales.

Total pub sales were £402 million for the year, representing 78% of last year, reflecting the significant disruption to trading from the pandemic, it added.

Marston's said it was managing inflationary pressures, including staff recruitment costs, well.

'The national minimum wage increase was in line with our expectation of a resumption of the 5-6% increase, which we were observing before the pandemic,' it said.

'The majority of our 2022 costs are now contracted in, specifically gas to 2023 and electricity to the end of March 2022.'

'With regards to supply chain challenges, we have seen some small pockets of disruption however, we are working closely with our suppliers to manage this.'

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