Mitchells & Butlers profits rise by 50pc

PUBS group Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has seen a surge in half-year profits – but its boss warned yesterday that cheap supermarket deals were threatening the industry.

The owner of the All Bar One and O’Neill’s pub chains said pre-tax profits for the six months to 10 April were £73m, up from £47m the year before.

Profits were fuelled by increased food sales and improved profit margins.

Like-for-like sales for the 33 weeks to 15 May showed total sales up 1.8 per cent with food sales 4.3 per cent higher at the group, which also owns the Harvester chain.

M&B has also confirmed plans to increase the number of its Harvester outlets, aiming to expand them from the current 170 to 400 by moving into smaller town centre locations.

It also plans to expand the number of Toby Carvery sites from 133 to 300.

Meanwhile the company is aiming to save £25m this year. It has also pledged to inject more cash into its pension fund to try to plug a deficit, increasing annual payments from £24m to £40m. It has also put aside £25m towards its expansion plans.

Chief executive Adam Fowle said: “The business continues to trade well, and we are pleased with the progress made in the first half.”

However, he warned that cut price deals in supermarkets were eating into pub profits.
“Pubs sell less than 35 per cent of beer in this country. The rest is drunk in an unsupervised way. It is a real social issue and it will get worse.