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Slowdown for Mitchells & Butlers

Half-yearly profit down for the pubs group – partly due to wet weather.

The British restaurants and pubs operator Mitchells & Butlers has reported a slowdown in sales, citing persistent rainy weather as a factor. In the 11 weeks to 7 April, like-for-like sales grew at 0.2 per cent – a steep decline from 4.4 per cent in the 17 weeks to 21 January.

The O'Neill's and Harvester owner posted a profit of £36m, or 8.7p per diluted share, for the 28-weeks ended 7 April 2012, compared to £37m, or 9p per diluted share, for the same period last year.

Pre-tax profit was £42m (2011: £41m), while operating profit was £118m (2011: £125m).

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and movements in the valuation of the property portfolio were £178m (2011: £183m).

The retained estate revenue grew by 6.3 per cent to £969m, with like-for-like growth of 2.7 per cent. This comprises the ongoing business and excludes the major disposal of 333 non-core pubs in November 2010.

The company’s net operating margin declined by 0.7 percentage points, as a result of inflationary cost increases in energy and food. Net cash flow was £12m after expansionary capital and exceptional items.

The company, which delivered annualised savings of £10m, opened 35 new sites and seven conversions during the period with expansionary capex of £42m. Exceptional operating costs were £20m including £14m of business and systems restructuring costs.

Bob Ivell, executive chairman of Mitchells & Butlers, said:

We have remained firmly on the front foot with a relentless focus on actions that will drive the medium and long term success of the business. We are continuing to deliver a resilient operating performance, maintaining the roll-out of our industry-leading brands and progressing our major business change programme. I am pleased with the progress being made to appoint a new CEO and further non-executive directors and look forward to being able to make an announcement at the appropriate time.

Despite challenging trading conditions, we remain confident that we can deliver a full year result in line with expectations.

The company’s portfolio of brands and formats includes Harvester, Toby Carvery, Vintage Inns, Premium Country Dining Group, Crown Carveries, Sizzling Pubs, All Bar One, Browns, Miller & Carter, Metro Professionals, Alex, Nicholson's, O’Neill’s and Ember Inns.