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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Owner of Cockermouth brewer Jennings planning expansion

The owner of Cumbrian brewer Jennings has toasted bumper profits of more than £80 million.

Marston’s has dodged the downturn to increase annual profits by nearly 10 per cent, making £80.4m in the 12 months to October 1.

The firm has also revealed that it wants to build another 25 pubs next year, creating an extra 1,000 jobs.

One of those is planned for Carlisle’s Kingmoor Park, where the firm has revealed proposals for a £2.5m pub/restaurant next to the city’s new bypass.

Marston’s bought Cockermouth brewer Jennings, brewer of draught and bottled beers including Cumberland Ale and Sneck Lifter, in 2005 when it was known as Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries.

The firm also owns the Pitcher & Piano and Tavern Table gastropub brands.

Its strong financial performance this year was built on increases in food sales at its pubs. The business sold more than 26 million meals in its managed pubs – at an average spend per head of £6.10 – as customers went in search of “affordable treats” during the economic downturn.

Chief executive Ralph Findlay said the company’s strategy of opening purpose-built pubs would continue, following the opening of 19 pubs in the last year.

He added: “Pubs make a real contribution to employment, and the Government can help by recognising that its policies on taxation, and beer duty in particular, are damaging to pubs, brewers and jobs.”

The firm reported strong demand for its real ales.

It said its strong performance continued in recent weeks, with like-for-like sales up three per cent, compared to 2.9 per cent in the full-year. The group said it will spend about £63m opening new pubs in areas of high traffic flow such as retail parks.

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