Mitchells & Butlers, operator of brands such as Harvester, All Bar One and Miller & Carter, has said it is exploring an equity capital raise to give it "increased financial and operational flexibility".
In its first quarter trading update for the 14 weeks ended 2 January 2021, it said despite the vaccine roll-out, the future facing the hospitality sector "remains extremely uncertain". No decision has yet been made with regards to the timing, size or terms of an equity capital raise.
Across the whole of the first quarter, total sales were 67.1% below the previous year, while on a like-for-like basis (excluding periods of closure) trading has been 30.1% down across this period. The group has cash balances on hand of £125m, with all facilities drawn.
Chief executive Phil Urban said: "I am consistently impressed by the resilience and energy of our teams as we repeatedly open and close businesses that we have invested in to make Covid-secure, and urge the government to better understand the huge impact these restrictions are having on the hospitality sector. The Job Retention Scheme is temporarily protecting some employment, but there is a real and pressing need for support for businesses themselves if we are to return to being the vibrant sector and important employers that we were.
"Mitchells & Butlers was a high-performing business going into the pandemic and, with the support of our main stakeholders, I have every confidence that we can emerge in a strong competitive position once the current restrictions on us are lifted."