Pub giant Mitchells & Butlers has seen its sales stall during the past six months as consumers reined in spending and the smoking ban dampened trade.
In the 28 weeks ending 12 April turnover was flat year-on-year at £995m with a pre-tax loss, including exceptional items, of £121m.
Exceptionals included a partial write-down of the £274m lost over a botched joint property-venture hedge with investor Robert Tchenguiz.
M&B chief executive Tim Clarke said that the results were "resilient, given the acknowledged impact on sales created by the squeeze on consumer spending and the smoking ban".
As part of a strategic review into the business published today, the O'Neills and Toby Carvery owner said it would evolve its existing formats to attract new customers and return to growth.
M&B will also look to boost staff training to improve productivity in the second half of the year.
The pub company, which also announced plans to convert to a real estate investment trust (REIT) today, remains on the hunt for managed pub operators to acquire after its failed bid for Punch Tavern's Spirit division.
M&B by the numbers:
- 110 million meals served a year
- £5.70 average main meal price
- £2.23 average price of a pint of lager
- 1.4% fall in sales in its 1,113 pubs and bars in the past six months (2008: £508m)
- 1.5% increase in sales in its 775 restaurants in the past six months (2008: £485m)
- £5m increase in labour costs due to increase in National Minimum Wage and additional holiday pay entitlement.
By Christopher Walton
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