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M&B reports good start but uncertainty remains

26 January 2005 by

Pubs group Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) - whose brands include All Bar One and Harvester - has reported a good start to its financial year, but warned that consumers might start spending less.

At the company's annual general meeting today, chairman Roger Carr said like-for-like sales in the 16 weeks to 15 January were up by 5.2%.

Total pub sales were up by 5%, led by a 10% rise in food sales. Drinks revenues were 2% ahead.

Pubs in residential areas, which make up 70% of M&B's estate, saw like-for-like sales increase by 6.6%, while on the high street the rise was just 2.9%.

"The continuing recovery in central London has helped to offset the more challenging trading conditions on the high street generally," Carr said.

He added: "We have made a good start to the year, although the outlook for consumer spending is increasingly uncertain."

He also warned of "regulatory and energy cost pressures" but said M&B's strategy of "offering value and choice for customers" would help the company overcome this.

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