Pub, bar and restaurant group Mitchells & Butlers has reported an uptick in sales during the first quarter of the year, citing a particularly strong festive period.
Like-for-like sales growth for the year-to-date increased to 1.7 per cent in the 15 weeks to 7 January, with trading over the festive period "particularly strong across all brands", up 4.7 per cent in the four weeks to 7 January.
Like-for-like food sales went up 1.6 per cent during the quarter, while drink sales grew by 1.7 per cent.
The group said total sales have increased by 2.3 per cent in the year-to-date.
Shares in the company went up 3.2 per cent at the open.
Why it's interesting
Mitchells & Butlers' annual profits dropped by more than a quarter last year, and even a boost to sales from the summer heatwave couldn't lift turnover. As a result, the company repeatedly warned that the firm would face cost headwinds, "notably from further wage inflation, the recent business rates review and exchange rate movements", in 2017.
However, today the group, which owns brands such as All Bar One, Harvester and O'Neills, hailed an "encouraging performance" in the first portion of the year and said it was feeling positive about the coming months.
What Mitchells & Butlers said
Chief executive Phil Urban said: "This is an encouraging performance, building on positive momentum from earlier in the year. We are starting to benefit from the many initiatives we continue to put in place, which gives us confidence in successfully delivering our strategic priorities going into the new year and a performance in line with the board's expectations."
People like going to the pub at Christmas, who knew?