The boss of the UK’s largest managed pub and restaurant operator said today that the market still remained “challenging” despite recording a 9% increase in first half sales.
Alistair Darby, chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers, told investors that the firm had increased its business even though trading conditions are far from perfect.
“We have made good progress in the first half with continued strong food volume growth driving improved sales,” he said. “The market in which we operate remains challenging despite growing consumer confidence. However, we are confident that our business is well placed to capitalise on opportunities in the market and deliver future shareholder value.”
Strong food volume growth helped drive sales of £1.1 billion for the 28 weeks to April 11, while operating profits rose 4% to £153m.
M&B spent £94m on nine new site openings and 23 conversions during the six-month period, up from £86m at the same stage last year. It also rolled out a new EPOS system across its entire estate.
Darby said that the integration programme for the 173 pubs it bought from rival chain Orchid was on track: “Our Orchid integration plan is being successfully executed; the office is now closed and the first sites have been converted to our brands with encouraging sales uplifts.”
Mitchells & Butlers is the UK’s largest operator of managed restaurants and pubs. Its portfolio of brands and formats includes Harvester, Toby Carvery, Country Pubs, Sizzling Pubs, Crown Carveries, Oak Tree Pubs, All Bar One, Browns, Miller & Carter, Castle, Alex, Nicholson’s, O’Neill’s and Ember Inns.
The company serves around 135 million meals and 435 million drinks each year.