(Reuters) - Marston's (MARS.L), known for its Pitcher & Piano bars and Pedigree ales, said comparable sales rose 3 percent at its own managed pub restaurants, as it posted record sales over the key Christmas fortnight for the fourth consecutive year.
Marston's shares rose as much as 5.1 percent, making them one of the top gainers on the FTSE 250 mid-cap index .FTMC.
Like-for-like sales rose 2.5 percent at the food-led outlets, the focus of Marston's growth plans, in the 16 weeks to Jan. 23.
Marston's, which has an estate of around 1,600 pubs and also brews ales such as Hobgoblin, said it was on track to open at least 20 new pub-restaurants and five lodges in the current financial year.
"Strong trading statement indicating that they had a good start to the year," analyst Jeffrey Harwood of Stifel Nicolaus told Reuters.
Comparable sales at its more drink-led managed pubs and franchised pubs also grew by 2.7 percent, with pub retail sales rising above 3 million pounds on Christmas Day for the first time.
Marston's is selling off drink-led pubs in favour of building more family, food-focused ones and has an 'F-Plan' — food, families, females and forty/fifty somethings - to capture changing trends of the eating-out market.
Shares of the company were up 5.1 percent at 158.4 pence by 0818 GMT on the London Stock Exchange.
Reporting by Aastha Agnihotri in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair and Subhranshu Sahu