Good weather around Christmas 2011 helped keep Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) festive sales buoyant, the managed pub operator has reported, with like-for-like sales up 6.5 per cent for the nine weeks to 21 January.
Food sales were up 8 per cent while drink sales were up slightly less at 5.4 per cent across the company's estate, which includes the O'Neill's, Harvester, Toby Carvery and Browns brands.
Commenting on the results, executive chairman Bob Ivell said: "These results reflect a successful Christmas sales performance. Although assisted by better weather, they show that customers are still keen to treat themselves even in a difficult economic environment.
"I am encouraged by the progress that we have already made in a number of areas to re-focus the operations and improve the guest experience. This gives me confidence in our ability to successfully develop and grow the business in the year ahead"
M&B described January's trade as 'subdued but consistent' with the underlying like-for-like sales trend first noted in July last year of around 1 per cent growth.
In its interim trade statement, M&B said despite a 'challenging' environment it would be pushing forward with the opening of more sites this year and continue with a number of its business initiatives following the restructure of its operations department in November last year .
"The consumer environment remains challenging. Inflationary cost pressures in areas such as food, duty and energy continue, with the latter expected to impact particularly on the first half of the financial year. We are actively seeking to mitigate the impact of these cost increases through our sales performance together with effective implementation of our business initiatives and investment in new site developments," it said.