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Late summer "more challenging" for Mitchells and Butlers

21 September 2017 by
Late summer "more challenging" for Mitchells and Butlers

Restaurant and pub group Mitchells and Butlers (M&B) endured a "more challenging" period towards the end of this summer, partly due to poor weather hitting drinks sales.

That's according to the firm's pre-close trading statement for the 51 weeks ended 16 September 2017.

M&B, whose brands include Browns, Harvester, and O'Neill's and which has over 1,700 sites, said that early summer had seen strong sales performance but that the latter part of the summer had been more difficult. Nonetheless it said like-for-like sales growth was still ahead of the market.

In the 51 weeks to 16 September, total like-for-like sales rose by 1.8%. As M&B indicated, it was very much a summer of two halves, with like-for-likes in the 10 weeks to 22 July increasing by 2.6%. In the eight weeks to 16 September though, like-for-like sale growth was down to just 0.3%

Within that, like-for-like sales growth on food was largely even, rising 1.3% in the 10-week period to 22 July 2017, with 1.5% growth in the eight weeks to 16 September.

But drinks sales were a different story. They increased by a healthy 3.8% in the 10-week period to 22 July but like-for-likes then fell by 1.2% in the following eight-week period to 16 September.

Total sales in the year to date have increased by 2.9%, thanks in part to the opening of 13 new sites over the period. The company has also completed 236 conversions and remodels in the financial year to date and has sold 79 sites that did not fit its long-term estate plan, raising a total of £46m.

Of those, 73 were sold as a package in July to Aprirose.

Chief executive Phil Urban said: "Whilst the weather in August and September has adversely affected the market we remain encouraged that our like-for-like sales performance continues to outperform the market. This performance reflects the progress we have made towards our strategic priorities. We continue to work hard to mitigate the cost headwinds faced by the industry and expect to deliver a full year performance in line with the board's expectations.

"We will enter the new financial year with the momentum of solid sales growth, enhanced clarity on pension contributions and a clear strategy which we believe positions the company well to deliver long-term shareholder value."

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