Mitchells & Butlers has said that the short-term economic outlook remains uncertain, having reported slowing sales growth and pressure on margins.
In the nine weeks to 16 July trading was up 2.8% year on year. However, in the same period last year the pub and restaurant business had been hit by the football World Cup. Mitchells & Butlers management estimated that the underlying like-for-like growth had softened to 1%.
The company, which operates brands including Harvester, Toby Carvery and Vintage Inns Food, said food sales were up 6.9%, while drinks sales were down 0.8% for the nine-week period.
Total sales in the first 42 weeks were down 9.3% because of disposals made over the past 12 months. Retained estate sales were up by 4.7%, but the company warned that margins were expected to be below last year owing to input cost pressure and increased operational expenditure.
Mitchells & Butlers said it had not been able to make a dent in its debt of £1.9b.
"Economic pressures continue and consumer expenditure in our market has weakened in the past couple of months with the short-term outlook remaining uncertain," the interim management statement said. "Despite these near-term challenges, our long-term focus remains on strengthening the business, lowering costs, driving sustainable revenue and improving customer experience as we better utilise our well-placed sites and brands."
By James Stagg
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