Mitchells & Butlers sees special occasion, upmarket and family dining markets key to growth

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Public house, Marketing

Miller & Carter, one of the brands within M&B's 'Special' market segment
Miller & Carter, one of the brands within M&B's 'Special' market segment
Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is to focus its future business on three specific areas of the eating-out market – upmarket social, special and family – to build growth after identifying five ‘market spaces’ in which it operates.

Issuing half year results today for the 28 weeks to 13 April, the managed restaurant and pub operator said it had interviewed 8,000 people on their recent leisure habits and met industry commentators to get a better view of the £75bn ‘highly fragmented market’ it serves through its pub and restaurant brands to help it focus better for the future.

Markets

As a result of the research, M&B identified five market spaces:

  • Special (value £22bn) – covering special occasion dining served by brands Miller & Carter, Vintage Inns, Village Pub & Kitchen, Premium Country Dining Group and Browns.
  • Upmarket Social (value £8bn) – focused on relaxed but refined environments in urban and suburban locations served by brands All Bar One, Castle, Nicholson and Alex.
  • Family (value £5bn) – catering for families with younger children where ‘stress-free and value-for-money experiences were key.  Brands in this space are Harvester and Toby Carvery.
  • Heartland (value £4bn) – the value end of the market which provides customers with regular and familiar experiences for a drink or meal. Brands in this space are Sizzling Pubs, Crown Carveries and Oak Tree Pubs.
  • Everyday social (value £2bn) – casual, community-focused pubs served by Ember Inns and O’Neills.

Of those five markets M&B said it would invest in the most lucrative three areas – Special, Upmarket Social and Family and expand brands ‘where possible’, spending between £50m and £80m per year on development.

“We have identified specific market segments where we can grow successfully and we have outlined clear operational priorities,” said chief executive Alastair Darby.

“By focusing on these areas, I believe that we will provide great experiences for our guests and sustainable returns for our shareholders.”

Food sales growth

In the last six months, the operator saw like-for-like sales rise 0.3 per cent and recorded a pre-tax profit of £72m. 

It said revenue growth was driven mostly by food sales which now make up 51 per cent of all sales and were up 4.5 per cent during the period. 

Trade was weak during January and March as a result of the cold weather, but was boosted by Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. 

Darby said: “These results demonstrate the progress we are making through our business change programme. We are growing sales and profit in a tough market by building on the firm foundations of our excellent estate, strong brands, dedicated people and substantial scale."

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