Marston’s has reached agreement to acquire 15 former Mitchell’s & Butlers’ pubs from Aprirose.

The group expects to complete and lease-fund this acquisition in the first half of 2019 and will invest approximately £4m post acquisition with a target EBITDA of around £0.5m in 2019 and at least £1m in 2020.

The announcement comes as the group reports total pub like-for-like sales (lfls) up 0.6% for the year to 29 September, with a 1.6% rise in the most recent 10 weeks.

However, weaker trading at its food-led destination pubs during the World Cup contributed to a fall in lfls of 1.2% in the Destination & Premium division, although the past 10 weeks has seen improved momentum, with lfls growing 0.1%. The group said Pitcher & Piano and Revere Country had continued to trade well through the year.

Group turnover was up 15% to over £1.1bn and Marston’s anticipates reporting underlying profit before tax of around £104m (2017: £100.1m) with higher operating profits in each of the trading segments offset by higher interest charges.

In the Beer Company, total volumes were up around 47%. Sales of own and licensed brand volumes exceeded one million barrels for the first time this year. Around 90% of ‘own brand’ volume is now sold outside Marston’s own pubs.

Fourteen pub restaurants and bars and seven lodges were opened in the year. As previously reported, we plan to open 10 pub restaurants and bars and five lodges in 2019.

Chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “2018 was a strong year for our Taverns and Beer businesses. We have seen clear benefit from our balanced portfolio having achieved good growth in wet-led pubs and from brewing, maximising the trading opportunities provided by the good summer weather and World Cup.

“This year has been transformational for our market-leading beer business, with the benefits of the acquisition of CWBB and the new distribution contracts delivering strong profit growth. Although trading in Destination food-led pubs was weaker, this predominantly reflects issues beyond our control relating to unseasonal weather extremes and the World Cup. However we are encouraged that our dining pubs are now seeing improving momentum and we expect to make further progress in 2019. We are meeting the demands of our customers and continue to manage the inflationary cost environment well, which gives us confidence for the future.”

The pubs are the Bear in Romford; the Flintlock in Hinckley; the Gardeners Arms in Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire; the Hesketh’s Arm in Preston; the Moat House Inn, Caerphilly; the Poacher, Wigan; the Vale in Coventry; the Bulls Head in Kings Norton; the Flying Childers, Doncaster; the Foley Arms Sutton Coldfield; the Golden Hind, Kingstanding; the Golden Lion, Wolverhampton; the Jolly Crofters in Horwich; the Old Lane in Chippenham and Ye Olde Crown, Rayleigh.