Mitchells & Butlers pub chain returns to profit

man drinking beer
Image caption Mitchells & Butlers estimated that nearly three quarters of its sales came from diners

The pub chain Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has announced a return to profit despite "a challenging year with a difficult consumer environment, board changes and a takeover approach".

Pre-tax profits for the year to 24 September came in at £132m, compared with a £127m loss in the previous year.

Last month, billionaire investor Joe Lewis, who owns 23% of M&B, called off attempts to buy the rest of the group.

M&B owns brands such as Harvester, All Bar One, Nicholson's and O'Neill's.

Mr Lewis' investment firm, Piedmont said it had decided not to buy the group because it was concerned by "weakness" in M&B's trading in the face of worsening economic conditions.

In its latest results, M&B said "the consumer environment remains challenging".

"We expect inflationary cost pressures to persist in the new financial year, especially from energy, duty and food," it warned.

Like-for-like sales, which measure revenue from outlets open at least a year, rose 2.6% compared with the company's previous financial year.

For food, they rose 4.8%, although that was due to rising prices, with the number of meals sold falling slightly.

M&B serves about 125 million meals and 425 million drinks a year at about 1,600 pubs and restaurants in the UK.

The chain said that like-for-like sales in the first eight weeks of its current financial year have grown a further 2.0%.

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