UK: Mitchells & Butlers cheers Christmas sales rise

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One of the UK’s largest pub groups, Mitchells & Butlers, has reported a slender rise in drinks sales in the key Christmas period.
Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) said today (27 January) that net sales for the first 17 weeks of its fiscal year, to 22 January, rose by 3% on the same period of the previous year.
Drinks sales at the group’s pubs crept up by around 1% for the period, but were eclipsed by momentum in food, which reported sales up by 6% for the 17 weeks. The figures offer some respite to M&B in what is a tough trading period for the UK on-trade.
“The business continues to perform well, although we are cautious on possible future trends in customer discretionary income and input cost increases in the year ahead,” said M&B, which was dragged to net losses by one-off charges in its last fiscal year.
Earlier this week, M&B announced that its chairman, John Lovering, will step down only a year after taking the job. It gave no reason for Lovering’s departure and has yet to announce a replacement.