The owner of All Bar One and Harvester has toasted the recent hot weather spell for helping drive a welcome turnaround in trading.
Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), which owns a number of sites around Huddersfield, reported a 1.8% rise in like-for-like sales for the eight weeks to September 17. The heatwaves in August and September also saw drink sales surging by 3.7% and food sales up by 0.4%.
It marks a change in fortunes fort he group after sales had fallen throughout a difficult past year’ Like-for-like sales in the 51 weeks so far are down by 0.8%.
Phil Urban, chief executive of M&B, said: “We are encouraged by our improved trading performance in recent months.
“Weather in recent weeks has certainly been helpful to sales, but in addition we are starting to benefit from increased investment activity, instilling a commercial culture and a faster pace of execution and innovation in our business.”
He repeated warnings over soaring costs from the recently introduced national living wage, saying wage costs and investment to revamp its estate will hit profit margins over the year to the end of September.
M&B has been vocal in warning about the impact of the new minimum wage, as it employs more than 44,000 workers nationwide.
It issued a profit warning last September after a poor summer in 2015. Mr Urban took the helm two months later pledging to respond to challenges with “energy and urgency”.
The group has overhauled 244 sites in its estate over the past year, while also opening seven sites.
M&B serves about 140m meals and 430m drinks each year and is one of the largest operators in the UK’s £80bn eating and drinking out market.
Its brands also includes Toby Carvery, O’Neill’s, Miller & Carter, Premium Country Pubs, Sizzling Pubs, Crown Carveries, Vintage Inns, Browns, Castle, Nicholson’s and Ember Inns, as well as Innkeeper’s Lodge hotels in the UK and Alex restaurants and bars in Germany.
Its sites include The Spink’s Nest at Birkby; the Armitage Arms in Brighouse; the Nag’s Head and Toby Carvery, both at Ainley Top; the Hare and Hounds and Miller & Carter, both at Mirfield; the Foxglove at Kirkburton; and the Sovereign at Shepley.