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Marston's expects lockdown-led pub closures until March

·1-min read
The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Burton-on-Trent

(Reuters) -British pub operator Marston's Plc on Friday said it expects pubs to be closed at least until March as part of the national lockdown imposed earlier this week, with some curbs to remain even after businesses are allowed to reopen.

Pubs, restaurants and other leisure businesses have been battered by coronavirus-induced curbs, and their prospects were further hammered as Britain announced its third national lockdown earlier this week to counter rising COVID-19 cases involving a new coronavirus variant.

Marston's, a two-century-old brewer known for its Pedigree, Hobgoblin and Lancaster Bomber beer, said trading was materially disrupted during the 13 weeks ended Jan. 2 due to the restrictions.

The London-listed company said government support is being accessed through the job retention scheme, with 97% of its employees currently furloughed and under business rates relief.

Under the government's support packages that were announced recently, hospitality and leisure companies would be able to claim one-off grants worth up to 9,000 pounds ($12,212.10) to get them through the coming months.

"We estimate Marston's has 13 months of spare liquidity under a full lockdown scenario and believe it is becoming increasingly well-positioned to emerge strongly from the pandemic," said Peel Hunt analysts in a note.

($1 = 0.7370 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)