M&B, which also owns the Harvester chain, said it is also facing a surge in costs due to higher wages and soaring energy prices.
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.
The FTSE 100 closed 24.05 points, or 0.33%, higher, at 7,310.37p on Thursday.