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Mitchells & Butlers sales hit by Omicron wave during festive weeks

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FILE PHOTO: Customers are seen at a table outside The Island Queen pub in London
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(Reuters) - British pub operator Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) said on Thursday its sales during the Christmas period fell as the Omicron COVID-19 variant made people cautious about socialising.

The company, which has about 1,700 pubs in the United Kingdom, said like-for-like sales in the most recent four weeks were down 10.2%.

Government advice for people to limit social contacts in the run-up to Christmas and in preparation for an Omicron winter left pubs and restaurants largely empty during what should be one of their busiest periods.

"Whilst we expect activity to continue to be adversely impacted in the short term, we are encouraged by the latest data on the Omicron variant which we believe will boost consumers' confidence to return to pubs and restaurants," Chief Executive Officer Phil Urban said in a statement.

M&B also said apart from fewer customers visiting its pubs, it also faced disruption from staff members missing work to isolate themselves.

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong and Priyanshi Mandhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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