Christmas trade boosts sales at pub group M&B

Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:09am EST

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LONDON Jan 30 (Reuters) - British pubs and restaurants group Mitchells & Butlers said strong demand over Christmas, including its biggest ever sales week, had boosted group trading for the year to date.

The company, whose outlets include Harvester, Toby Carvery and All Bar One, on Thursday said sales at pubs open over a year were up 2 percent on a year ago for the 17 weeks to Jan. 25, which included a 2.6 percent sales rise over the three-week festive period to Jan. 4.

The firm, which generates around three quarters of its turnover from guests eating in its 1,600 restaurants and pubs, said food volumes had risen 1.3 percent over the festive period, with 193,000 meals sold on Christmas day.

M&B joins a list of pub firms including Marston's, Greene King and JD Wetherspoon to have enjoyed strong Christmas trading.

British pubs operator and brewer Fuller, Smith & Turner , which has almost 400 mainly London and south-east based pubs, also reported a rise in sales on Thursday.

The London Pride brewer said like-for-like sales at managed pubs and hotels, which make up over half of group revenue, were up 7.7 percent in the 43 weeks to Jan. 25, its fiscal third quarter, and by 7.2 percent in the last 10 weeks.

Underlying profit in Fuller's tenanted arm grew 2 percent, while total brewing volumes rose 1 percent, the firm said, adding it expected to meet internal forecasts for the full year.

Shares in Fuller's closed at 969.5 pence on Wednesday, up 28 percent on a year ago, valuing the firm at 314 million pounds ($520 million). M&B shares closed at 438.5p, up 44 percent on a year ago, valuing the business at 1.8 billion pounds.