Bad weather hits M&B with like-for-like sales drop
31 January, 2013
Mitchells & Butlers, Britain's biggest managed pub and restaurant operator, saw like-for-like sales fall -0.3% in the 17 weeks to 26 January. Despite strong Christmas trading, since then the cold weather and snow has badly hit trading, it said.
Christmas sales were strong with record levels of advance bookings, particularly on key trading days. Across the festive season as a whole, made up of the six weeks to 5 Januray, like-for-like sales increased by 4%, M&B reported.
This was ahead of the eating and drinking-out market as a whole as measured by the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, see Restrained festive cheer for pub and restaurant groups, which saw a 2.1% increase over the same period.
M&B said that in the 14 weeks to 5 January, like-for-like sales were 1.0% ahead of last year. Since then, trading conditions had been challenging following the holiday period and the UK has been affected by cold weather and snow. As a result, like-for-like sales in the 17 weeks to 26 January were 0.3% lower than last year.
Food sales, however, held up better than drink, seeing a 0.5% LFL increase compared to a 1.3% decline. Total sales growth in the first 17 weeks was 2.1% and operating margins were in line with last year, M&B added.
New Chief Executive Alistair Darby said: “I am pleased with our performance over Christmas and the New Year. Our planning for Christmas was excellent and we provided our guests with great experiences, as shown by the fact that a third of our pubs, bars and restaurants broke their weekly sales records.
"Since the New Year, trading has slowed as consumers tighten their belts. Although we do not expect economic conditions to become any less challenging over the next twelve months, we remain confident in our ability to perform well in the year ahead as a result of our continued focus on service and amenity coupled with the high quality of our assets, brands and formats.”
Coffer Peach Business Tracker data reflects the current tightening of the market. The rate of year-on-year like-for-like growth as steadly fallen every month since last August. At the end of December market growth was just 0.5% up on the previous year - and since then collective weekly figures have shown large declines because of the weather.
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