Marston's has reported a slide in full-year profits, but the UK brewer and pub owner reported a rise in beer sales and said it is encouraged by trading in the new year.

Net profits for the 52 weeks to 3 October fell to GBP55.6m (US$92.5m), against GBP69.5m a year earlier, Marston's said today (3 December). After one-off charges, including an impairment charge on property, profits slipped to GBP16.4m, as opposed to GBP61.8m after charges last year.

Sales also fell, to GBP645m from GBP666m the year before, reflecting a tough 12 months for the pub sector in the UK.

"This was a creditable performance in a very challenging period," said Marston's CEO Ralph Findlay.

"In addition, the improvement in trading we experienced over the second half-year has continued in recent weeks, and we have made an encouraging start to the new financial year."

Marston's beer division had a solid year, against a UK market that has declined by around 5% in volume in the last 12 months.

Net sales at Marston's brewing business rose by 13% to GBP101.5m, with underlying operating profits up 4% to GBP16m.

Own-brewed beer volumes increased by 8%. Premium ale, which is now 54% of the ale portfolio, increased by 26%, including 13% growth in the on-trade and 50% growth in the off-trade, the firm said.

In its outlook, Marston's said that current trading is "encouraging" but warned that the consumer environment remains "uncertain".

The group is using GBP140m of proceeds from a recent share rights issue to build and develop 60 managed pubs over the next three years. It expects to open 15 in 2010.

For the full announcement, click here.