Well, it's not quite as altruistic as that. But the company is absorbing the rising cost of lager to protect its pubs, which has a similar effect. As well as saying it wouldn't push up the cost of its own beers, which include Pedigree, Jenning's and Banks, the Wolverhampton-based brewer is to give financial help to struggling landlords, with additional discounts and lower rents.
Marston's has been staring into a decidedly half-empty glass of late: like-for-like profit at its leased and tenanted business, where pubs are run by tenants who pay rent and buy beer from the company, fell 6% in the 15 weeks to 17 January.
The company has around 2,250 pubs and bars in England and Wales, including 506 managed pubs under the brands Tavern Table, Two for One and Pitcher & Piano. Results were slightly better there: like-for-like sales fell 2.9% in the same period. Marston's pricing plan is intended to ‘keep tenants in place and maintain the stability of the estate,' according to a company statement.
Marston's is, of course, not alone in crying into its pint: rivals Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns have both reported heavy losses recently. Indeed, the whole pub industry has been suffering, first from the smoking ban and last year's non-event of a summer, and now the recession, which is an environment that better suits supermarkets and their mind-bending booze offers.
After the kind of news we've had today, with the recession becoming an official reality, many people will be after a decent pint tonight. So Marston's should be praised for helping keep Britain's end up...