Mitchells and Butlers (M&B) saw like-for-like sales decline by 1% in the nine weeks to 21 September 2013, it reported today in a pre-close trading update, but the company remains confident that it can deliver full-year results to budget.
Total sales growth in the first 51 weeks was 2.1%. Like-for-like sales for the same period grew 0.4%, driven largely by food sales (up 0.8%) while drink sales fell marginally (-0.3%).
Chief executive Alistair Darby said he was pleased with the progress made by the company this year, ongoing changes are made to position the business for the future.
"Based on detailed consumer insight, we have focused our brands on delivering improved performance across a small number of priority areas," he said. "These include further improvements in team engagement, operational practices and guest service, which will deliver the next stage of growth."
Food sales fell by 0.1% in the most recent nine weeks, while drinks sales dropped off by 2%, which M&B said was down to a strong comparative performance last year (up 3%).
The company, which has around 1,600 managed restaurants, pubs and bars under a range of brand names including All Bar One, O'Neills and Harvester, opened 16 new sites and converted or expanded 6 sites this financial year.
It said that the development its pipeline of new sites for 2014 and 2015 is progressing well. M&B added that it expects to increase investment in its most successful brands with a view to opening around 50 new sites a year over the medium term.