Pub group cheered by strong festive period

All Bar One in Birmingham's Brindleyplace, which is owned by Mitchells and Butlers

Pub giant Mitchells & Butlers this morning reported strong trading over Christmas, with like-for-like sales growth over the three week festive period of 9.8%.

In a trading statement covering the 14 weeks ended January 5, 2019, the Birmingham-based group, which operates around 1,800 pubs under more than a dozen brands, including Harvester, Toby Carvery, All Bar One and Miller & Carter, said its sales performance also strengthened over the period with like-for-like growth of 6.9%, balanced more evenly between food and drink.

Drink sales in the seven weeks to November 17 were up 2.7% with food sales up 1.8%.

In the seven weeks to January 5, drink sales had accelerated to a like-for-like increase of 6.6% with food picking up to plus 6.9%.

Chief executive Phil Urban said: “We are delighted with our performance over the festive trading season, with record trading on all key festive dates, including sales of over £12m on Christmas Day, and like-for-like sales growth of 12.3% over the core two week period.

“The weather was milder than last year but the results were also due to the months of planning put in by our teams, and to several of our Ignite initiatives beginning to bear fruit.”
However, Urban warned that the company is now entering its toughest quarter.

“Given the success of the festive trading period, we would expect trade to be quiet at least until people get paid again.”

On Brexit, Urban said: “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.”