Hangover for Mitchells & Butlers as drinks revenues slide lower

Suzie Neuwirth
Mitchells & Butlers indicated labour costs would rise after the National Living Wage comes in
PUBS and restaurants group Mitchells & Butlers disappointed investors yesterday with a decline in third-quarter drinks sales and a warning that the increase in minimum wage will increase its costs.

Shares in the FTSE 250 firm fell around 1.4 per cent by early afternoon, before closing 1.62 per cent down at 388.4p.

Like-for-like drink sales fell one per cent, but food sales rose 2.5 per cent, creating a 0.8 per cent rise in total sales, which Panmure Gordon analysts called “disappointing”.

The company, which owns chains including All Bar One, warned that George Osborne’s planned rise in the minimum wage for over-25s, announced in the Sum­mer Budget, would raise costs after it is introduced in April next year.

“We are assessing a wide range of options to mitigate the impact,” it said.

The firm said it had opened 11 new sites this financial year, leaving it just one quarter to meet its ambitious full-year guidance of 25 new sites.