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Jubilee weekend fails to lift spirits at London pub operator Mitchells & Butlers

·2-min read
Industry sources say Jubilee street parties kept drinkers out of some city centre pubs (Rui Vieira/PA) (PA Wire)
Industry sources say Jubilee street parties kept drinkers out of some city centre pubs (Rui Vieira/PA) (PA Wire)

The four-day Jubilee weekend bonanza failed to help pub chain Mitchells & Butlers offset the impact of rail and Tube strikes on sales as inflation bit into consumers’ spending power.

Like-for-like sales rose by 0.9% overall in the third quarter cooling from a strong start to the period with a rise of 2.2% in the first five weeks. The owner of the All Bar One and Toby Carvery chains said inflation continued to “present a major challenge to our business and to the hospitality sector as a whole.”

Mitchells left its near-term outlook unchanged but said rising “utilities, wages and food costs” would “persist at or above current levels well into the next financial year”.

Phil Urban, chief executive, said: “The trading environment remains very challenging with inflationary costs squeezing consumer discretionary spending and putting pressure on the industry’s margins.”

Mitchells, which also runs the Nicholson’s pubs in London, has previously said it does not intend to pass on the full extent of rising costs to customers and is continuing to invest in its estate, 82% of which is freehold.

Meanwhile rival chain Fuller’s said it had seen a strong recovery in the City and West End. In the first 16 weeks of the new financial year, total sales were up 3% on pre-pandemic levels and up 81% on the same period last year. On a like-for-like basis, sales are up 27% on last year.

Fuller’s chief executive, Simon Emeny, said: “We are pleased with our sales growth trajectory, particularly in our Central London sites where momentum is building well.”

Industry sources have said that the Jubilee bank holidays -- which in a break with tradition were held on Thursday and Friday -- kept some drinkers away from pubs, including in areas dominated by office workers, while many drinkers also celebrated at home or with street parties.

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