Bullish M&B dusts itself down for ‘toughest quarter’ ahead

Mitchell & Butlers this morning struck a cautious tone for its prospects during the next three months despite record trading over the Christmas period.

The company said that sales on all key dates over the festive period beat previous years, with revenues on Christmas Day exceeding £12m across its 1,700 sites.

Like-for-like sales increased 12% over the core two-week period, with chief executive Phil Urban pointing to milder weather, “months of planning” by its teams and the fruition of several new internal initiatives.

The company noted that its sales performance has also strengthened over the full seven-week period since its last update, with like-for-like growth of 7%, balanced more evenly between food and drink.

“We now enter our toughest quarter and, given the success of the festive trading period, we would expect trade to be quiet at least until people get paid again,” he commented. “The ongoing uncertainty around Brexit will continue so we remain cautious about the outlook until the political and macroeconomic landscape becomes clearer. That said, we have made a good start to the year.”

Mr Urban said the firm continued to focus on investment in its estate, premiumising where possible as well as improving amenity.

In the year to date it has completed 114 conversions and remodels and opened two new sites.

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