Mitchells & Butlers sees ‘strong’ Christmas

Leading UK restaurant, pub and bar operator Mitchells & Butlers saw a “strong trading performance over the festive season” with total sales growth of 9.7%, according to the company’s latest Q1 trading update.

Mitchells & Butlers, which oversees the likes of All Bar One, Harvester, Ember Inns, Toby Carvery, Nicholson’s, O’Neill’s and Vintage Inns (alongside others), has, according to its annual report for 2023, 1,654 largely-freehold managed businesses.

In the 15 weeks to 13 January 2024, like-for-like sales of food grew by 8.7%, while for drink sales saw slightly more modest growth of 6.6%. Overall like-for-like sales growth was 7.7%.

Chief executive Phil Urban commented on these recent results: “Growth was particularly strong on key dates, with record sales for Christmas Day based on 229,000 meals served, supported by strong trading in the run up to Christmas, with the return of work parties and festive gatherings driving sales.”

In the 7 weeks from late November to 13 January, like-for-like food sales were up by 9% and drinks sales by 7.2%. In the 8 weeks to 25 November 2023 by contrast, like-for-like food sales went up by 8.4%, and drinks sales by 5.9%. According to CGA by NIQ’s findings, it was beer and cider sales in particular that saw a particularly notable increase.

“Our focus remains on the effective execution of our Ignite programme of initiatives and our successful capital investment programme, driving cost efficiencies and increased sales. With the unique strengths of our business, including a diverse portfolio of established brands and enviable estate locations, we are well positioned to continue to grow profitability and market share in the year ahead,” he continued.

The report noted: “Sales have remained strong throughout the first quarter and, notwithstanding a 9.8% increase in the National Living Wage next April, overall cost pressures are now abating.”

The forthcoming increases to the National Living Wage have caused a headache for some operators, with BrewDog abandoning its commitment to pay its bar workers the real living wage.

This article originally appeared on the drinks business.

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