Marston's, which has 1800 pubs across the UK, said trading at its premium and destination outlets, in the key three week Christmas period to January 4, had been strong.

It said there was growth of 3.3%, which came on top of tough comparable figures of a 5.8% rise a year earlier. It served a record 55,000 meals on Christmas Day.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive, said: "Our performance in the first quarter has been good and, encouragingly, we have achieved growth in each of our key trading divisions."

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