Britain's biggest pubs and restaurants group Mitchells & Butlers reported a 4.4 per cent increase in sales at outlets open for more than a year driven by a surge in demand for food.
The company, which is re-shaping itself into a food-led business, said sales of food increased 7.1 per cent in the nine weeks to September 18, with drink sales up 2.2 per cent.
M&B, which has over 2,000 pubs and restaurants and whose brands include Harvester, All Bar One and Toby Carvery, said it was confident about the future prospects for the business.
"This is a very encouraging performance, particularly given the present consumer economy, and underlines the strength of the Mitchells & Butlers business," said chief executive Adam Fowle.
The company, whose chains also include the Sizzling Pub company, O'Neills and Ember Inns, said it expected its operating margin to be about 16.5 per cent, 1.2 percentage points higher than last year.