Marston’s chairman David Thompson says the company has no plans to convert to a tax-efficient Reit despite moves by rivals Enterprise Inns and Mitchells & Butlers. He does not believe the potential benefits outweigh the implementation costs or the increased risk, although the situation will be kept under review. Mr Thompson also criticized the Budget increase in beer duty which was contributing to the widening price gap between pubs and supermarkets. Marston’s promoted the responsible, supervised sale of alcohol but the tax increase was likely to undermine that objective. The pub operator and brewer reported a 19% fall in pre-tax profits to £31m, blamed on share buybacks, tough trading conditions and higher costs. Strong like-for-like food sales which were up 7.8% helped offset a decline in drinks and gaming machine revenues, sending overall operating profits down 0.5% to 22.9%, while group revenues rose 3.6% to £316m. Marston’s said it had grown its share of the premium ale market with sales volumes ahead of last year but chief executive Ralph Findlay was “cautious” about the outlook for the rest of the year with consumer confidence remaining weak. The Daily Telegraph 24/05/08 page 36 The Times 24/05/08 page 62 (UK Business)