Beer tax fear at Marston's; BREWING: Pub group's gloomy forecast for 2008.
MIDLAND pub group Marston's today warned of a cloudy outlook for the trade with Government increases in beer duty adding to the sector's woes.
The Wolverhampton-based company said it remained cautious over trading for 2008 as it became the latest pub firm to warn of the impact of rising alcohol taxes.
The firm said recent increases in beer duty added to pressures in an "already challenging" trading environment.
The warning came as Marston's reported a 0.3 per cent rise in like-for-like sales at its managed pub arm as rising food sales offset weakening drink demand.
In the company's tenanted and leased pubs division, like-forlike profit was slightly below last year, with growth in rental income offset by sales volumes and machine income in line with market trends.
Marston's said: "We remain cautious about the outlook for 2008, and the recent increase in beer duty adds to the pressures on tenants and free trade operators in an already challenging trading environment."
The comments echo those made in recent days by other firms, including Solihull-based Enterprise Inns and Shepherd Neame.
Marston's - formerly known as Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries - has an estate totalling around 2,275 pubs - 1,723 tenancies within Marston's Pub Company and 552 directly managed by Marston's Inns & Taverns.
It operates four breweries - Banks's Brewery in Wolverhampton, Marston's Brewery at Burton-on-Trent, Jennings Brewery at Cockermouth in the Lake District and Ringwood brewery in Hampshire.