Pub group Marston’s has outlined a bold programme of expansion that will see it embark on a strong of kitchen projects as it opens new sites with a firm emphasis on food.
The operator said it expects to open around 25 family-friendly pub restaurants in 2015, including three lodges, as it continues to develop its profitable ‘Destination and Premium Estate’.
It has opened more than 100 pubs under this banner during the past four years and they typically represent large, high-turnover sites that generate high returns through a focus on family dining, reflected in a food sales mix of over 50%.
“Our investment in new-build pubs has contributed to the development of a high-quality, national pub estate and transformational growth in food sales to over 30 million meals each year,” the company stated in its latest financial report.
“Over the last four years we have also sold 600 smaller pubs which offered limited opportunity for growth or development; we expect to realise around £60 million from the disposal of smaller wet-led pubs in the current financial year, mainly from the Taverns estate.”
Marston’s says that as the pub market has evolved, it has responded to consumer demands through innovative menu and service developments including Pizza Kitchens, Garden Grills and ice-cream parlours.
The company operates 380 ‘Destination and Premium Estate’ pubs, 909 ‘Taverns’ and 343 ‘Leased’ pubs, but it is at the premium end of the market where it sees the strongest potential for food sales.
Its 345 ‘Destination’ pubs now boasts a high food sales mix of 58%, compared with 27% last year. Its 35 ‘Premium’ pubs and bars include the branded Pitcher & Piano chain, and up-market pubs which have an independent feel focused on food, drink and accommodation. Last year the company opened 27 new pub restaurants.