Pub giant Mitchells & Butlers plunges to £200m loss

Pub and bar giant Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has plummeted to a £200 million loss for the past half-year after it was battered by pandemic closures.

The Toby Carvery and All Bar One owner saw shares dip on Wednesday after it saw its losses widen from £121 million for the same period last year.

It said it reopened 535 of its venues from April 12 as part of its recovery from restrictions but said trading was “varied and heavily influenced by the weather”.

Like-for-like sales with just outdoor trade were on average 37% below levels without any restrictions before the pandemic.

The group said it is nonetheless optimistic for the latest phase of reopenings and has welcomed customers into “almost all” of its venues after indoor hospitality restarted on May 17.

In the update, M&B revealed that sales tumbled by 78.9% to £219 million for the period to April 10 following the long period of closures.

It added that sales for the first 14 weeks of the period, which saw trading continue but with restrictions in place, were 30.1% below the same period before the pandemic.

Phil Urban, chief executive of the company, said: “M&B was a high performing business coming into the pandemic.

“With the support of our main stakeholders, we are now well placed to emerge in a strong competitive position and look forward to the removal of remaining trading restrictions in June such that the business is able to return again to full and sustainable profitability.

“With our great estate, well diversified portfolio of brands and proven management team, we look forward to welcoming back our guests for great experiences in Covid-19 secure environments and focusing the business once again on continually enhancing our customer proposition while driving efficiencies through our Ignite programme.”

Shares in the company were 2.1% lower at 303.4p.