The closure of sites during the first national lockdown and subsequent restrictions imposed on the hospitality industry hit Mitchells & Butlers to the tune of £760m, it emerged today.
That’s the amount which sales fell by for the year to 26 September 2020, versus the same period the year before. It represented a 34% fall in turnover, from £2.23 billion to 1.47 billion.
Operating profit at the firm came in at just £8m, compared with £297m the previous year.
Chief executive, Phil Urban, remained upbeat, pointing out that the chain, which runs more than 1,700 sites, had demonstrated a strong operational performance on reopening in July and had secured new financing arrangements that offer security and flexibility.
He said: “Throughout a very uncertain and challenging year our businesses and teams have adapted quickly, creating a safe environment for guests and putting us in a strong position to benefit when consumers are able to eat out again. We saw direct evidence of this from a strong trading period in July and August before further restrictions came into force.
“With our great estate, balanced portfolio of brands and proven management team, we remain optimistic that we will be able to regain the momentum previously built and continue to achieve sustained market outperformance, when the current operating restrictions are eased.”
At the height of the pandemic in March, M&B put 99% of its staff on its furlough. It reopened its estate in July and during the period that the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme was in place like-for-like sales increased 1.4% among the 94% of sites trading again.
The company said that its premium suburban brands, notably Miller & Carter and Premium Country Pubs, have traded very well since reopening, even with the Covid secure protocols.
Conversely, its city centre wet-led businesses, such as Nicholson’s, struggled with the restrictions, exacerbated by many offices remaining empty.