Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay has credited the group’s wide range of beer brands and variety of pub formats for its strong financial results.

Speaking after the brewer and pub operator released its preliminary results for the 52 weeks to 1 October 2016, Findlay described the outstanding performance of its beer business, which now includes Thwaites, as particularly encouraging.

Findlay presented the results alongside financial director Andrew Andrea, who said it was necessary to modernise the branding of its traditional beers in order to attract younger drinkers and avoid them becoming heritage zombie brands.

Andrea said Marstons’ contemporary take on carvery and rotisserie, and variety of formats such as Generous George, Ebb and Flow and Pitcher and Piano, made its pubs more flexible and adaptable to the local community.

Findlay said: “Our range in choice is really important. We’re not a single brand business, we’ve got flexibility, the offer has evolved. We have looked at trends in food and drink and looked at what works where, and I think that’s a really important part of the results.”

Andrea added: “The modern consumer doesn’t want mass market; they want something that makes them feel special. When we’re opening new pubs we don’t say we want x of this and y of that format, we start with a pub and say ‘what’s the right thing for the local consumer.’ That flexibility in thinking is a big part of our success, we’re not obsessed with big brand building.”

On the modern rebranding of some its flagship beers such as Pedigree, Findlay said: “It’s always a risk but it’s a risk we can manage. The core consumer might say I don’t need the branding to change, but the most important thing is the beer doesn’t change.”

Andrea added: “What we’re doing is presenting something different to someone who night not have been drinking it before. The licensees look after the core drinkers. But if we’d done nothing there was a real risk those brands would have become zombie heritage brands. We have to face up to the fact that many of our core drinkers are quite old and the rules of life are they will be dying off over time. You need to recruit younger drinkers.”

Andrea also discussed Marston’s in-house software, a collaboration with Microsoft, which gives managers real time feedback on the performance of certain food and beverage items.

They pair also gave an update on the group’s disposal programme, which has seen it let go of 700 sites over the last five years, with a further 100 left to go.

Andrea said: “There are people that want to buy pubs, but they want them at a bargain, and we aint going to give them away. Our competitors are now seeking to sell pubs, so it now looks like we timed it just about as well as we could have.”