UK brewer Marston's has reported group turnover around 2% ahead of last year for the 43-week period to 26 July.

The company said today (28 July) that performance had continued to be resilient despite difficult trading conditions for the industry.

The group's pub division Marston's Inns & Taverns saw like-for-like sales in the period dip 0.6% below last year as a result of weaker sales in April. In the 13 weeks to 26 July, however, sales were 0.5% ahead of last year.

At Marston's Pub Company, the group's tenanted and leased pub division, like-for-like profit was approximately 1.2% below last year in the 43-week period with growth in rental income offset by weak volumes.

The company said it has been affected by the introduction of the smoking bans in England and Wales, which has accelerated long-term trends.

Marton's newly-acquired Refresh organic ale brewer, bought in April, is performing well and in line with company expectations.

"Although the market is difficult, and we do not expect any improvement in the economy in the short term, we are still seeing growth in eating out in Marston's pubs despite the squeeze on discretionary expenditure and weaker confidence," said chief executive Ralph Findlay. "We are also experiencing volume growth in Marston's premium ales.

"Cost inflation remains a significant challenge, but we are controlling our costs well and are taking appropriate actions to offset some of the increases in the costs of brewing raw materials, food supplies and utilities."

The company also announced that with immediate effect the roles of Alistair Darby, managing director of Marston's Beer Company, and Stephen Oliver, managing director of Marston's Pub Company, are to be exchanged.

A spokesperson for Marston's told just-drinks: "Both markets are challenging and Alistair and Stephen are well known in the industry. The move is just about getting the best out of our executive team."