Mitchells & Butlers relieved to have sites back open again as it looks to stem losses

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Mitchell & Butlers has breathed a sigh of relief now that it can begin serving customers indoors after revealing that business during the last five weeks of outdoor trading was significantly down on overall pre-Covid levels.

The 1,700-strong pub chain started 12 April – when pubs could serve customers outdoors – with just 16% of its estate open, increasing to 44% as restrictions eased in Scotland and Wales.

Outdoor revenues for the five-week period were down 37% on pre-Covid levels, but this did include both indoor and outdoor sales.

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The company, which has just raised £350m in equity to provide it with extra capital to get through the pandemic, has now reopened almost all of its estate following the further easing of restrictions this week.

Half-year results to 10 April show sales declined from £1 billion to just £219m year-on-year but the majority of its pubs were closed for much of that period.

Operating losses rose to £132m compared with £51m the year before.

Chief executive Phil Urban said: “M&B was a high performing business coming into the pandemic. With the support of our main stakeholders, we are now well-placed to emerge in a strong competitive position and look forward to the removal of remaining trading restrictions in June such that the business is able to return again to full and sustainable profitability.

“With our great estate, well-diversified portfolio of brands and proven management team, we look forward to welcoming back our guests for great experiences in Covid-19 secure environments and focusing the business once again on continually enhancing our customer proposition while driving efficiencies through the Ignite programme.”

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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