Pub chain M&B gets boost from better margins

Oliver Smith
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SHARES in British pubs group Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) soared yesterday after it announced better-than-forecast sales and operating margins.

Analysts said the company’s operating margins were stronger than expected, rising to 16.5 per cent from 16 per cent, helped by Mitchells & Butlers’ restructuring programme.

The company, whose brands include Harvester and All Bar One, said that like-for-like sales during the first eight weeks of its 2014 financial year had been 0.1 per cent higher.

“We have worked hard this year to deliver our transformation plan and position Mitchells & Butlers for future growth,” said chief executive Alistair Darby.

Reporting its full year results yesterday, FTSE 250-listed Mitchells & Butlers said revenue rose 2.2 per cent to £1.89bn for the year to 28 September and adjusted profit had grown 13.6 per cent to £184m.

However, the company reported like-for-like sales growth in 2013 of 0.4 per cent, against 2.1 per cent in the previous year, a result the company said was held back by a squeeze in customers’ disposable income.

“We still think that a lot of our customers are under a fair amount of pressure when it comes to cash in pocket,” said Darby.

The company’s share price opened nine per cent higher but pared gains to close up 3.5 per cent.

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