Harvester has helped Mitchells & Butlers boost sales in its retained estate by 4.2% for the first half of the year to 9 April, with food sales up 7.5%.
Meanwhile like-for-like sales in the 33 weeks were up 3.3%, with food sales growth of 5.5% and drink growth of 1.8%.
M&B's retained estate comprises its ongoing business before exceptional items and excludes the disposal of 333 non-core pubs for £373m to Stonegate, lodges and Hollywood Bowl.
Jeremy Blood, interim chief executive, said: "Our growth strategy is on track and has delivered a strong trading performance with total sales up 4.2%. Harvester's performance has been particularly good, supported by its new advertising campaign together with its new breakfast and takeaway menus. We have successfully positioned Mitchells & Butlers more firmly within the eating-out market with nearly three-quarters of our revenue now generated around eating out.
"We have a healthy balance sheet and are investing for further growth, with 50 new sites being opened this year from our brand roll-out. I have been impressed with the depth of skills within the company that gives Mitchells & Butlers an excellent growth platform and enables the board to have confidence in the prospects for the business."
Total revenue for the period stood at £946m, down 8.8% from the same period in the previous year, while pre-tax profit was £43m, down 40.3% from £72m.
The company spent £99m on capital expenditure, an increase on the £68m in the first half of last year. Around £53m of that was taken up by expansionary capital to accelerate the roll out of M&B's brands, while £39m was spent on acquisitions with 29 new sites opened in the period. M&B said 18 of the 22 Ha Ha Bar & Grill sites were converted in the first half and have now opened as Browns; All Bar One; Miller & Carter; Premium Country Dining and Harvester.
M&B now has around 1,600 restaurants and pubs in its estate, with nearly three-quarters of sales derived from meals and associated drinks sales.
It has also reduced its net debt by £400m to £1.9b.
By Neil Gerrard
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