Pub group M&B pips its rivals with a double-digit sales boost
THE company behind Harvester, All Bar One and Toby Carvery beat its rivals over the festive season while taking a record £12m on Christmas Day alone.
Mitchells & Butlers’ (M&B) like-forlike sales swelled by 12.3pc in the final two weeks of December, pipping double-digit performances by the likes of Greene King and Stonegate. Like its rivals, M&B benefited from milder weather and the fact Christmas and New Year’s days fell in the middle of the week. Chief executive Phil Urban said records had fallen “on all key festive dates”. Shares closed up 7.7pc at 289p.
Comparable sales over the seven weeks to Jan 5 were 6.9pc higher and up 4.7pc over the 14 weeks to the same date. M&B, which was founded when the two Midlands brewing empires merged in 1898, has completed 114 pub conversions over the last year and opened two new sites.
It operates more than 1,700 restaurants and pubs, serving about 140m meals and 430m drinks a year. The company launched the first phase of its “Ignite” initiatives in 2016 to try to return the business to sales growth.
The latest iteration of the scheme focuses on IT investment and improved digital marketing and also includes changes to staff scheduling and developing new pub concepts.
Mr Urban said: “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.”
Walkabout owner Stonegate said last week that sales over the last two weeks of December were 12pc higher. Greene King’s comparable turnover was up 10.9pc during the same period.
Anna Barnfather, a Liberum analyst, said that despite benefiting from an extra weekend of festive trading as a result of midweek holidays, M&B had delivered “an impressive result”. However, the company’s biggest problem remains its pension fund deficit.
Mitchells & Butlers sales grew by 12 per cent