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M&B sees sales growth of 4.4%

Published:  26 January, 2012

Mitchells & Butlers, the 1,600 strong bar group, has reported a sales increase of 4.4% in the last 17 weeks.

In its first quarter trading update the group, which operates All Bar One, Browns and Vintage Inns, said the positive numbers were "assisted by better weather".

But trading in January has been more "subdued", with like-for-like sales growth of around 1%.

Harpers recently reported the group sold 300,000 more glasses of wine in the four weeks leading up to Christmas than in 2010, with sales of sparkling wine growing by 30%.

Executive chairman Bob Ivell said the results reflected a "successful Christmas sales performance".

"They show that customers are still keen to treat themselves even in a difficult economic environment. I am encouraged by the progress that we have already made in a number of areas to re-focus the operations and improve the guest experience. This gives me confidence in our ability to successfully develop and grow the business in the year ahead," he added.

Food sales continue to perform more strongly than drink sales with an increase of 5.1% in the first 17 weeks of the group's financial year, against an increase in drinks sales of 4.3%.

M&B is continuing with business initiatives aimed at simplifying processes and "devolving greater responsibility and accountability to customer facing operations". It says this will "enhance the guest experience and lay the foundations for further business growth".

Sector analyst Mark Brumby of Langton Capital said the group had a "successful" Christmas and was performing "relatively well".

"We believe that most operators will be finding it hard to register growth in January as comparabless are tough with some Christmas spending spilling over into the first month of last year, something that was not repeated in 2012," added Brumby.