Harvester and All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is taking market share from struggling rivals thanks to its offer of a "value and volume" dining experience, the pub group claimed today.
The embattled pub operator, currently a takeover target after it incurred a £274m loss on the closure of a proposed joint-venture property hedge fund, said overall sales for the 27 weeks ending 5 April had remained resilient thanks to strong food sales.
Food sales now account for 38% of all spending at M&B pubs and bars and have increased 4.8% in the last six months. M&B now serves 110 million meals a year.
Although drinks sales fell by 1.4% in the period, M&B said the drop actually represented a market share gain, as overall on-trade beer sales have fallen 9% in the same period.
M&B added that soft drink and wine sales had benefited from food sales growth and that beer now accounts for just 25% of overall sales.
It also pointed to the strong performance of the 239 sites it acquired from Whitbread in 2006. To date 196 have been converted into M&B brands and are trading on average 19% ahead of pre-M&B purchase levels.
E-mail your comments to Christopher Walton here.