MARSTON’S said £43 million wiped from the value of its property portfolio was partly to blame for an annual loss, while the brewer and pub giant which makes the historic McEwan’s brand signalled growth in beer sales in Scotland.

It swung to a £20m pre-tax loss for the year to September 28, sliding from a £54.3m profit the previous year.

The company said it has made “good progress” with its debt reduction plans, after it completed the sale of 137 pubs to Admiral Taverns for £44.9m.

Ralph Findlay, Marston’s Scots-born chief executive, said: “As we’ve seen for two or three years, the wet-led pub market has continued to outperform the food-led pub market and continues to do so.

“In our beer business, there has been growth of 1%.”

READ MORE: Pub giant's new plans for McEwan's brand as revenue tops £1bn for first time

Mr Findlay said: “In summary, a good performance in 2019, good progress on strategy and as far as current trading is concerned, Christmas is still to come, which is very important for us, but we’re ahead on last year on a like for like basis at the moment.”

Charges came from the change in value of gilts and the second element of £43m related to the changes in book values in pubs.

Mr Findlay said: “Bearing in mind that the value of our pub estate is about £2.4bn, so it is a relatively small adjustment on a big number, and the issue there was that pubs are valued on the basis of a multiple of profit.

“Where we’ve seen costs rise, that has to go back a bit.”

Shares rose more than 3% to 131.5p on the figures.

Scotland has continued to be a key market for the Wolverhampton-based firm.

READ MORE: Pub giant takes £1m profits hit after snow and ice disrupts trade

Mr Findlay said: “We have invested in recent years about £60m in the Scottish pub and lodge market, and it has been very successful for us.

“I think in the context of the debt reduction plan the growth that we will be targeting in Scotland will come from our beer business rather than pubs business.

“The McEwan’s brand has done very well both north and south of the Border.

“It is one of our bigger brands and is a very significant brand, both McEwan’s Export and McEwan’s Lager.

“It has done particularly well in bottle in the take-home market, and we’ve been really pleased with the performance of the McEwan’s brand.”

READ MORE: Marston's sells 137 pubs

Political elements were also of interest.

Mr Findlay said: “The Brexit situation needs to be resolved quickly and I the right way and the uncertainty needs to be removed. As far as the election is concerned, my own view is that regardless of the election Christmas is going to happen, so I’m optimistic about that.

“Politically speaking, clearly we’ve got questions we’d like answering like where the direction of future tax is going.” He said the focus “remains to reduce our net debt by £200m by 2023, or earlier”.