M&B sales growth slows

British pubs & restaurants group Mitchells & Butlers reported slowing sales growth in the fourth quarter, giving prospective suitor Joe Lewis more ammunition to stake his claim.

The group, which has rejected two approaches from the billionaire currency trader and and said sales growth at pubs and restaurants open more than a year slowed to 0.5 per cent in the nine weeks to 17 September. For the 51 weeks to 17 September, sales were up 2.7 per cent.

M&B, which operates over 1,600 restaurants and pubs and whose chains include All Bar One, Harvester and Toby Carvery, said sales of food grew by 1.1 per cent in the nine week period, a slowdown from growth of 4.9 per cent in the 51 week period.

The company, whose other chains include Browns, O'Neills and Toby Carvery, said the UK consumer environment continued to be challenging and it expected cost pressures to remain next year especially in energy, duty and food.