January 10, 2019 / 7:36 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Pub operator Mitchells holiday sales rise 9.8 pct, warns on Brexit

(Adds details on Brexit, Christmas sales, background)

Jan 10 (Reuters) - British pub operator Mitchells & Butlers Plc on Thursday reported a 9.8 percent rise in comparable sales for the three-week holiday season, but warned about the ongoing uncertainty around Britain’s looming exit from the European Union.

The company, which operates more than 1,800 pubs, bars and restaurants and owns brands such as All Bar One, Harvester and Toby Carvery, said it remains cautious about outlook until the political and macroeconomic landscape becomes clearer.

“We now enter our toughest quarter and, given the success of the festive trading period, we would expect trade to be quiet at least until people get paid again,” Chief Executive Officer Phil Urban said.

Pub operators in Britain have battled rising costs from a minimum wage increase, higher property prices, a Brexit-spurred slide in sterling and a move away from pub drinking by younger Britons.

The company, however, said it saw record business on all important festive dates, including sales of over 12 million pounds ($15.33 million) on Christmas Day.

Total sales rose 5.1 percent over the 14-week period, the company said. ($1 = 0.7830 pounds) (Reporting by Samantha Machado and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Shounak Dasgupta)

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