All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers has said like-for-like sales for the four weeks to 8 January 2022, including the festive season, were down 10.2% after Omicron concerns and government caution resulted in a downturn in activity across the sector.
The group said in its first quarter trading update for the 15 weeks to 8 January that it had made a strong start to the year with like-for-like sales growth of 2.7% over the first eight weeks. This encouraging performance continued until early December.
Like-for-like sales in the year to date declined by 1.5%, with total sales in decline of 5.2%, being also adversely impacted by Covid-related site closures.
The business said sales remained stronger across its suburban and food-led brands, particularly at the premium end of the market.
The company also warned of inflationary cost headwinds, due particularly to statutory wage increases and high energy prices. The group had cash balances on hand of £235m, with undrawn unsecured facilities of £150m.
Chief executive Phil Urban said: "This first quarter performance represents a robust performance given the challenges the industry faces from the rapid spread of the new variant both in terms of reduced consumer activity and disruption caused by the inevitable isolation of team members.
"Experience shows that as restrictions ease, and confidence returns, our business is able to swiftly recover. To that end, whilst we expect activity to continue to be adversely impacted in the short term, we are encouraged by the latest data on the Omicron variant which we believe will boost consumers' confidence to return to pubs and restaurants allowing us to regain the momentum which was beginning to build, supported by the benefits from our new set of ignite initiatives."
Photo: Willy Barton / Shutterstock
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