Marston’s has posted an underlying loss before tax of £122m, for the half year to 3 April.

However, when taking the disposal of the Brewing business, Marston’s reported a statutory net profit after tax of £199.3m.

The period was significantly affected by lockdowns, and saw the pub company’s turnover fall 84% to £55.1m.

Marston’s said it implemented learnings from first lockdown, focusing on cash preservation.

It invested £2m in outdoor trading areas in Autumn 2020, with continued support for tenants through rent waivers and grant relief assistance.

Net proceeds of £228m from the disposal of the Beer Company offset losses in the period.

The company has £116m of headroom in its bank facility, with medium term facilities extended to 2024.

Since reopening, Marston’s said early indications suggest strong customer demand, with like-for-like sales running at around 80% of pre-COVID levels.

April sales were sufficient to deliver break-even group EBITDA.

Ralph Findlay, CEO said: “Despite the challenges of the last year, the actions we have taken have ensured that Marston’s has emerged a stronger and more focused business with a substantially strengthened balance sheet, a 40% stake in Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company and a clear vision for the future. This is my last set of results as chief executive officer and I am confident that the business is in an excellent position to execute its strategy and deliver a return to growth as the country recovers from the pandemic.

“Whilst still early days, trading has been encouraging since we were permitted to open our doors for outdoor trading last month and it has been fantastic to have our teams back in the business, doing what they do best, and welcoming customers back into our pubs. Our recent strategic investment in additional outdoor trading areas ahead of reopening has enabled us to capitalise on the clear pent-up consumer demand for the pub. We look forward to all trading restrictions being removed next month which signals a return to some semblance of normality.

“I am delighted to hand over the reins of chief executive officer to Andrew Andrea later this year and am confident that both Marston’s - and its talented team of people - will be in extremely able hands under his stewardship. He shares the passion I have for this very special business and brings with him invaluable experience and knowledge of both Marston’s and the pub sector, having been instrumental in shaping the Group’s strategy to date. Marston’s has a great opportunity ahead and I look forward to seeing the Group go from strength to strength as it embarks on the next exciting stage of its development.”