Improved weather over Christmas has helped pub and casual dining giant Mitchells & Butlers record a 6.5% increase in like-for-like sales for the nine weeks to 21 January.
In a trading update this morning, the company behind the Harvester, Toby Carvery, Vintage Inns, and Nicholson's brands also indicated that like-for-like sales in the first 17 weeks of the financial year were up 4.4%.
But the company warned that trading would remain "challenging" as inflationary cost pressures in areas such as food, duty and energy continued.
Commenting on the results, executive chairman Bob Ivell said: "These results reflect a successful Christmas sales performance. Although assisted by better weather, they show that customers are still keen to treat themselves even in a difficult economic environment. I am encouraged by the progress that we have already made in a number of areas to re-focus the operations and improve the guest experience."
By Neil Gerrard
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