Pubs group Marston's - which runs scores of locals across Pembrokeshire - has revealed it took a hit to sales as a result of the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant over the festive period.

Marston's has a significant footprint in Pembrokeshire, after a deal was reached early last year to run some 150 pubs in Wales owned by brewer Brains - which it said would secure 1,300 hospitality jobs.

The Western Telegraph has reported that Brains is rumoured to be close to agreeing a deal to sell scores of the properties, which Marstons holds long term leases on, to a private equity firm.

Like-for-like sales, across the group, had been rising and were up 1.3 per cent in the eight weeks to November 27, but fell sharply in the following eight weeks to January 12 as the virus spread.

The figures fell 8.8 per cent compared with the same period two years ago, and in total the like-for-like sales for the 16-week period were down 3.9% as customers stayed away from the pubs.

A fall in sales during the traditionally busy Christmas period in Wales has been attributed to enhanced Covid restrictions on hospitality and fears over an increase in cases of the Omicron variant.

From a geographic perspective, the Group’s pubs in Wales were more significantly impacted than those in England by the tighter restrictions that were enforced during the period.

Andrew Andrea, CEO on Marstons, said: “Whilst the emergence of the Omicron variant and subsequent Government guidance temporarily impacted consumer sentiment, we remain confident that the strong trading momentum which we were experiencing prior to that will resume.

“We welcome the various plans underway to gradually ease trading restrictions in Scotland and Wales.

"These, together with the reduction in the required self-isolation period and anticipation of an imminent end to the work from home directive, should enable some semblance of normalised trading patterns to return.

"Indeed, there is growing evidence over the most recent of weeks of the New Year that consumer confidence is rebuilding, and guests are returning to our pubs in greater numbers, which is encouraging.

"Importantly, Marston’s has a well invested, predominantly community pub estate, which is well placed to benefit from the pent-up consumer demand which we are confident remains.”