M&B expects to overcome tough conditions

City A.M. Reporter
Restaurant and pub group Mitchells & Butlers has said it is confident it could overcome the tough consumer environment in 2012 after making a good start to its new financial year, helped by mild weather.

The company, which rejected two bid approaches from billionaire currency trader Joe Lewis earlier this year, posted full-year adjusted pre-tax profit down 7.7 per cent but in line with forecasts.

M&B, which runs around 1,600 restaurants and pubs across the UK and whose chains include Harvester and Toby Carvery, said the profit had come from sales on a like-for-like basis up 2.6 per cent, with food sales on the same basis up 4.8 per cent.

The company, whose chains also include All Bar One and O'Neills, said it had started the 2012 financial year well, with like-for-like sales up by two per cent in the first eight weeks of the year, which it said had been helped by mild weather.

Bob Ivell, executive chairman, said the results showed the group was resilient, despite a difficult year with a tough consumer environment, board changes and a takeover approach.

"Mitchells & Butlers is a good business and our ambition is to make it a great business," he said. "We have a number of initiatives in place to do this including the simplification of our central support functions to enhance business performance.

"Overall, this gives us confidence in successfully growing the business in the year ahead."

Lewis, who remains the company's biggest shareholder with a stake of 24 per cent, abandoned plans to take over the business in October, citing M&B's weak trading and volatile market conditions.