Mitchells & Butlers ‘delighted’ after festive sales fizz

All Bar One

All Bar One owner Mitchells and Butlers has said it is “delighted” after bumper Christmas sales, but cautioned over Brexit uncertainty.

The pub group saw like-for-like sales rocket 12.3% higher over the busiest two weeks, with trade up 6.9% over the seven weeks overall to January 5.

It enjoyed more than £12 million in sales on December 25 – with new records set on all festive dates.

Shares rose 5% after its robust trading update.

M&B, which also owns chains including Harvester and Toby Carvery, said both food and drink performed well – up 6.9% and 6.6% respectively over the seven-week period.

The Christmas boost came after more muted trade in November and saw like-for-like trading rise 4.7% overall in its first quarter to January 5.

Festive delight

Phil Urban, chief executive of M&B, said: “We are delighted with our performance over the festive trading season.”

But he added a note of caution despite a “good start” to the new year, with pub-goers reining in spending over January and Brexit looming large.

He said: “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.

“The ongoing uncertainty around Brexit will continue so we remain cautious about the outlook until the political and macroeconomic landscape becomes clearer.”

The figures come after rival Greene King also reported back with a bullish festive update earlier this week, with the Hungry Horse owner reporting a 10.9% rise in like-for-like sales across its managed pubs over the two weeks to January 6.

Anna Barnfather, an analyst at Liberum, said M&B had delivered an “impressive start” to its financial year.

“The second quarter will be tough as customers wait for the next pay day and embrace ‘dry January’, but the company is on track to achieve our full-year like-for-like sales growth expectations of 3%,” she said.