UK: Mitchells & Butlers FY profits flat in “challenging” UK

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FY operating profits flat at GBP297m (US$476.5m)
Net sales edge up by 3.3% to GBP1.86bn
Restaurant, pub group expects economic environment to remain “challenging”

Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has seen full-year profits stay flat, but branded its performance “resilient” after dealing with tough UK economic conditions.

Operating profits in the 52 weeks to the end of September edged up by 1% to GBP297m (US476.5m), the UK’s largest managed operator of restaurants and pubs said today (27 November). Sales in the 52-week period were up by 3.3% to GBP1.86bn, while EBITDA was up by 0.7% to GBP407m.

The company said that food sales continued to drive overall sales growth as its focus shifts to the eating-out market.

A major “business change” programme has been implemented this year, M&B said, which involves putting “guest service” at the core of the business.

After a period of management turbulence, the group appointed Martson’s Alistair Darby as its chief executive in September. M&B was without a chief executive for 11 months after Jerermy Blood stepped down from the group in October 2011.

Bob Ivell, non-executive chairman, said: “This year we have initiated a significant cultural change programme focused on streamlining internal processes and placing the guest at the heart of everything we do.

“We have restructured the way we support our operations teams, reduced our central costs and increased the accountability of our senior executives for their brands.”

Ivell said having appointed Darby his focus will now shift to “enhancing the balance, skills and compliance of the board through the selection of appropriately qualified independent non-executive directors”.

Looking ahead, the group said it expected the economic environment to remain challenging. “Further inflationary and regulatory cost pressures will impact the business in the new financial year, with ongoing alcohol duty increases, further food price inflation and other cost increases, coupled with continued tightness in consumer incomes.”

Shares in the group were down today by 6% at GBP3.11.