Strong Christmas sales despite tough trading conditions

Operating performance

Christmas sales were strong with record levels of advance bookings, particularly on key trading days. Across the festive season1 as a whole, like-for-like sales increased by 4%.

In the 14 weeks to 5 January, like-for-like sales were 1.0% ahead of last year. Since then, trading conditions have 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.

Like-for-like sales
FY 2012
52 weeks to
22 September 2012
First 8 weeks
8 weeks to
24 November 2012
First 14 weeks
14 weeks to
5 January 2013
Trading to IMS
17 weeks to
26 January 2013

Total sales growth in the first 17 weeks was 2.1% and operating margins were in line with last year.

Cash flow and net debt

We continue selectively to execute our capital expansion plans and we have opened 6 new sites since the start of the financial year. There has been no material change to the financial position of the business since the Final Results announcement, with net debt broadly unchanged at £1.8bn.

Board composition

Having appointed Alistair Darby as Chief Executive in October, we are now focused on the selection of independent Non-Executive Directors to enhance the Board.

Alistair Darby, Chief Executive, commented:

"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."

There will be a conference call for analysts and investors at 8.45am; please dial +44 (0) 1452 555 566 and quote conf ID 94457536. Please dial in 5-10 minutes before the conference start time. The replay will be available until 27 February 2013 on +44 (0) 1452 550 000, replay access number 94457536.

1The festive season is defined as the 6 weeks to 5 January 2013, mapped against the equivalent calendar days in the previous year.

For further information, please contact:

Tim Jones - Finance Director
+44 (0)121 498 4129
Stephen Hopson - Head of Investor Relations
+44 (0)121 498 4895
James Murgatroyd (RLM Finsbury)
+44 (0)20 7251 3801

Notes for editors:

  • Mitchells & Butlers is the UK's largest operator of managed restaurants and pubs. Its portfolio of brands and formats includes Harvester, Toby Carvery, Vintage Inns, Premium Country Dining Group, Crown Carveries, Village Pub & Kitchen, Sizzling Pubs, All Bar One, Browns, Miller & Carter, Metro Professionals, Alex, Nicholson's, O'Neill's and Ember Inns. Further details are available at and supporting photography can be downloaded at
  • Mitchells & Butlers serves around 130 million meals and 420 million drinks each year and is one of the largest operators within the UK's £70 billion eating and drinking out market.
  • Like-for-like sales growth includes the sales performance against the comparable period in the prior year of all UK managed pubs, bars and restaurants that were trading in the two periods being compared. Like-for-like sales are measured against relevant accounting weeks in the prior year. For the 17 weeks to 26 January 2013, 95% of the UK managed estate is included in this measure.