Mitchells & Butlers has said “significant uncertainty” remains over the heftiness of its energy bill next year, as pub bosses have called for more financial aid.
The All Bar One and Toby Carvery owner said its trading environment “remains very challenging,” as cost inflation headwinds were expected to be as much as 12 per cent for the current year.
M&B said its energy costs were set to soar further and it had brought forward 45 per cent of this financial year’s anticipated energy requirement.
Shares in the pub operator shot up eight per cent on Wednesday after M&B was back in the black after recovering from the side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The London-listed hospitality firm posted an £8m profit before tax, compared to a £42m loss the year prior.
Annual profit was up 57 per cent as the pub company reaped the rewards of seeing punters flock back to their local pubs and bars after Covid measures were scrapped at the start of the year.
The pub company was “ever mindful of the pressures that the UK consumer is facing,” Phil Urban, chief executive, said.
He added: “However, we are encouraged by the strength of sales growth at the end of last financial year which has improved further into the early weeks of this year.”
The set of results was indicative of “the highly volatile time pubs have been experiencing as the urge to socialise post pandemic has snapped back, just as inflation has been eating away at margins,” Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said.
The pain faced by the pub sector would not be short term, Streeter warned, with M&B “preparing for the chronic effects of the cost-of-living crisis to last throughout the year ahead.”
Pub bosses have urged the government to set out details of what support will be available beyond the current scheme, which ends in April.
Businesses have also complained of energy firms cashing out on the situation, continuing to find ways to charge venues high prices, despite a government relief scheme.
The boss of industry group UKHospitality Kate Nicholls said it was “vital” energy companies were lenient with firms struggling to pay their bills and called on ministers to extend support.