Pub group cheers a return to pre-Covid levels

All Bar One in Birmingham's Brindleyplace, which is owned by Mitchells and Butlers
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Pub giant Mitchells & Butler (M&B) is now back to pre-Covid levels, boosted by the performance of its surburban and food-led sites.

M&B operates 1,700 restaurants and pubs under 17 brands including All Bar One, Nicholson’s, Harvester and Toby Carvery.

Phil Urban, chief executive, said: “We are encouraged by the improvement in sales performance following the easing of restrictions. However, we are still seeing volatility and a contrast between sales performance at food led and wet led brands, highlighting the continuing uncertainty.”

Sales in the last eight weeks have been 104% of the levels seen in 2019, before the pandemic and lockdowns affected trading. The figures include the benefit of the temporary reduction in the rate of VAT on food and non-alcoholic drink sales.

But total sales for the current financial year, which is nearly finished, is just 45% of pre-Covid levels because of the enforced closures and restrictions.

Mitchells & Butler had previously reported a pre-tax loss of £200m in the first half of the year, a 28-week period which had only 14 weeks of restricted trading allowed.

Urban added: “Our diverse estate, balanced across a wide range of offers, puts us in a strong position coming out of the pandemic. We are looking forward to the new financial year, with a renewed focus on our capital plan and generating both sales and efficiencies through our Ignite improvement programme.”