Pub and restaurant chain Mitchells & Butlers has reported strong Christmas trading, despite the bad weather.
The All Bar One, O’Neill’s, Toby Carvery and Harvester owner said that like-for-likes sales increased 3.9 per cent in the three-week festive trading period to January 6.
It made record takings on Christmas Day, posting 5.4 per cent like-for-like sales growth and selling 225,000 meals.
Festive cheer: Pub and restaurant chain Mitchells & Butlers has reported strong Christmas trading, despite the bad weather
Overall, sales were up 2.2 per cent year-to-date.
This was despite the firm battling increased costs, most notably from wage inflation, rising property costs and unfavourable currency exchange rates, and having to make price adjustments for food price inflation.
But the group, which operates more than 1,750 restaurants and pubs in the UK, said that in the seven weeks leading up to December, comparable sales were only up 1.6 per cent because of the adverse weather conditions.
That compared to a 2.3 per cent increase in the previous seven weeks.
Boss Phil Urban said: ‘We are pleased to have delivered continued strong trading results over the important festive period in the face of difficult weather for many of our guests, indicating the attractiveness of our offers in a competitive market.’
In November, Mitchells saw its shares plunge after warning it could scrap its next shareholder dividend payout on the back of lower profits and said it faced further risks amid Brexit uncertainty.
But it rallied back towards the end of 2017 and is up 2.8 per cent over the last year.
The pub group reported a fall in pre-tax profits to £77million for the year to September 30, compared to £94m the previous year.
Dampened sales: The group, which operates more than 1,750 restaurants and pubs in the UK, said that in the seven weeks leading up to December, comparable sales were only up 1.6 per cent because of the adverse weather conditions
It comes as the company works to offset a spike in buying costs on the back of the Brexit-hit pound, saying it expects those pressures to continue into the next financial year.
Mitchells opened two new sites and completed 114 conversions in the financial year to date.
‘We expect to complete around 270 remodels and conversions in the full year,’ it said.
Pubs are expected to suffer if access to foreign workers is restricted as a result of Brexit, with the British Hospitality Association saying earlier this autumn that around 700,000 of the hospitality sector’s 3.2m workforce are from the EU.
Rival pub chain Young’s last year said it was concerned that Brexit uncertainty was making it more difficult to attract and retain staff.
Stifel analyst Jeffrey Harwood said: ‘We view this as an encouraging update with good underlying trading offset by the impact of adverse weather in the second week of December.’
The company’s shares were down 2.5 per cent at 276.1p in early trading.