M&B sees some Christmas cheer as sales increase

Joseph Millis
Mitchells & Butlers said sales had increased 9.1 per cent year-on-year
PUB GROUP Mitchells & Butlers yesterday said it saw a good performance over the festive trading period.

However, it warned its margins remained under pressure owing to the integration of the Orchid business, which it purchased for £266m last June, and pricing pressures.

The FTSE 250-listed company said sales in the 17 weeks to 27 January had increased by 9.1 per cent year-on-year, with like-for-like sales rising 1.7 per cent.

The company said its trading performance over the festive period, the two weeks during Christmas and New Year, was strong, with like-for-like annual sales growth of 4.8 per cent. Like-for-like sales on Christ­mas Day rose 7.1 per cent, it added.

The higher sales were supported by a rise in food volumes over the period, with like-for-like food sales rising 2.8 per cent in the 17-week period.

But margins remains under pressure for the group, owing to the planned integration of the Orchid pub business and pricing pressures within a competitive pub environment.

The group said its electronic point of sale system was progressing on schedule and it had acquired four sites and converted 15 in its financial year so far, including six Orchid conversions.

“We are pleased to have delivered a good trading performance over the important festive season.

As we now move into the more difficult winter trading period we continue our focus on growing our business through increased volumes, upgrading infrastructure and further improving staff turnover and net promoter scores,” said chief executive Alistair Darby.

Shares in the company closed up 0.36 per cent yesterday to close at 423.5p.