British pub firms Marston's and Fuller's reported strong sales growth, benefiting from mild weather over the Christmas and New Year period, offering more evidence of cash-strapped Britons seeking solace in their local pub.

Marston's, which has around 2,150 pubs, said sales at its managed pubs open more than a year rose by 5 percent in the 16 weeks to January 21, with food sales up 5.5 percent and sales of drinks rising 4.8 percent. In the last 8 weeks of the period, sales rose by 7 percent.

Profits were around 3 percent higher in Marston's tenanted pubs during the 16 week period.

Fuller's, which has over 360 pubs, reported a 5.1 percent at its managed pubs and a 1 percent increase profit at its tenanted pubs.

The comparable period in the previous year had been impacted by cold weather and snow.

Rivals Mitchells & Butlers , Greene King and JD Wetherspoon have also reported strong sales growth in recent weeks.

Marston's said it expected the consumer environment to remain challenging this year but hoped to benefit from a value-for-money focus and plans to open new pubs with an emphasis on a higher margin food offering. It plans to create 1,000 new jobs this year and each year after.

Fuller's, whose pubs are primarily located around London, said it hoped to benefit from the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee.

Chairman Michael Turner said the company had purchased 14 pubs this year giving it good momentum going into a summer of sport and celebration that should lift the national mood.

Shares in Marston's were unchanged at 99 pence at 0830 GMT. Fuller's shares were trading up 7.5 pence to 717.5 pence.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Rhys Jones)