Mitchells & Butlers, the UK’s largest operator of managed restaurants and pubs, revealed this week that its kitchens turned around 200,000 covers on Christmas Day alone as customers flocked to its establishments over the festive period.
Releasing a trading statement for the 17 weeks to 24 January 2015, M&B said business was up 9% year-on-year and almost 2% on a like-for-like basis.
It cited a “good trading performance” over the holiday season, with like-for-like sales growth of 5% in the two weeks of Christmas and New Year.
Trading was especially strong on key dates, and in particular Christmas Day, which saw like-for-like sales growth of 7.1% and more than 200,000 meals sold.
Margins continue to be weaker than last year due to a number of factors including the planned integration of the Orchid business and the “careful” approach that M&B has adopted to pricing in a demanding consumer environment.
M&B confirmed it has acquired four sites and converted 15 in the financial year to date, including the first six conversions of Orchid sites to its existing brands and formats. It said it remains on track with the integration of the Orchid business.
Alistair Darby, chief executive of M&B, commented: “We are pleased to have delivered a good trading performance over the important festive season. As we now move into the more difficult winter trading period we continue our focus on growing our business through increased volumes, upgrading infrastructure and further improving staff turnover and net promoter scores. The Orchid integration plan is on track and we are encouraged by the early trading performance of the converted sites.”
M&B’s 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.