Food sales have jumped more than 5% at Mitchells & Butlers as the pub company continues to defy fears over slowing consumer spending due to the credit crunch.
Sales of food in the ten weeks to 19 July grew 5.1%, although the news was tempered by nose-diving beer volumes, down 10% in the same period.
While beer now accounts for just a quarter of all revenue at Mitchells & Butlers, the pub company now serves 110 million meals to customers each year.
With food sales up but beer volumes falling, like-for-like sales in the ten-week period grew 1.1% overall.
However the pub company expects tougher times to come and said ever higher food and energy prices would intensify cost pressures in the coming year.
In a statement the company said: "Our leadership position in value for money eating out, serving over 110 million meals a year, is enabling us to benefit from the increasing customer focus on value.
"This strategy will place us in a resilient position should general economic pressures increase."
M&B, alongside Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns, is also assessing whether to convert to a real estate investment trust and is still in discussions with HM Revenue & Customs to review the feasibility, costs and benefits of such a move.
By Chirstopher Walton
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