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Marston's expects new wage rises to push up costs further

Joanna Bourke
Press image from Marston's

Marston’s on Friday warned the incoming national minimum wage rise will increase its second-half costs by up to £3 million.

Shares fell more than 6%, to 109.5p, on the update which also pointed to “subdued trading” for part of December.

The recently announced 6.2% wage rise to £8.72 an hour from April is higher than anticipated, the brewer and pubs operator said.

It is also grappling with high business rates and increased competition from casual dining chains that are offering discounts.

Comparable sales for the 16 weeks to January 18 rose 1%. Flooding and political uncertainty kept some customers away for part of the period , but boss Ralph Findlay cheered a “strong” Christmas fortnight, up 4.5%.

Findlay said: “Looking forward, greater clarity on the political agenda should positively impact consumer confidence. Overall the economic environment for the consumer looks encouraging with low unemployment and healthy wage growth providing us with increasing confidence that the market will grow in 2020."

Marston’s, which has around 1400 pubs and wants to reduce its debt pile, now plans to sell £90 million-worth of pubs this financial year.

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