Pick-up in food demand drives Mitchells & Butlers sales increase

All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers has reported sales growth in the third quarter, driven by improving food sales.

Like-for-like sales in the 10 weeks to July 27 were up 2.8% across the company’s brands, which include Toby Carvery and pub chains Nicholson’s and O’Neill’s.

Food sales were up 5.4% but drinks were down 0.3%, reflecting the combination of the World Cup and hot summer in the previous year when punters spent more on drinks.

Total like-for-like sales in the year so far have grown 3.6%.

The group has also opened six new sites and completed 230 conversions and remodels.

Chief executive Phil Urban said: “We are pleased with sales performance, which remains convincingly ahead of the market. Whilst growth across the market during the early weeks of the period reflected the World Cup and sunny weather last year, we are encouraged by how growth has strengthened in recent weeks.”

The company returned to profit growth in the first half, as a series of strategic investments helped it to save money and drive stronger sales.

Mr Urban said its “Ignite 2” initiatives, which include improvements to the booking system and more labour efficiencies, have driven the “momentum” in the business.

Shares in the company were up 2.2% in early trading on Wednesday.

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