Shares in Marston's were down on the FTSE 250 in morning trading despite the beer and pub company saying it had "an encouraging and robust performance" in the 16 weeks to 22 January 2011.

Marston's said that its managed pubs division had seen like for like sales growth of 2.1 per cent, thanks to strong sales of food. The group's tenanted and leased pubs however is expected to see a drop in like for like profit of one per cent.

Marston's brewed beer saw volumes rise six per cent in the period, with bottled ale seeing particularly strong growth of 20 per cent.

The group said that net debt, cash flow and profitability are in line with expectations.

This year Marston's said it had already opened two pubs and added that it was planning to open another 20 pubs in 2011.

In an outlook statement Marston's said, "We are encouraged by our performance to date, with the growth in like-for-like sales demonstrating the appeal and resilience of our offers despite the challenges presented by the weather in December. We are confident that our continued focus on offering our consumers value for money in high quality pubs, together with sector-leading shares in the growth segments of the beer market, places us in a strong position for the future."

By 09:25 shares in Marston's were down 0.48 per cent on the FTSE 250 to 103.30 pence per share.