Mitchells & Butlers lifted by higher food sales

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A Mitchells & Butlers pub - the Prince of Wales, Notting Hill
Image caption,
M&B said it had increased its profit margins

The owner of the All Bar One and O'Neill's pub chains, Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), has reported a strong rise in half-year profits.

The company - which also owns Harvester restaurants - said pre-tax profits for the six months to 10 April were £73m, up from £47m a year earlier.

Profits were boosted by increased food sales and higher profit margins.

Sales data for the 33 weeks to 15 May showed total like-for-like sales up 1.8%, with food sales 4.3% higher.

Expansion plans

"The business continues to trade well, and we are pleased with the progress made in the first half," said chief executive Adam Fowle.

M&B's big rise in food sales helped to offset sluggish demand for drinks, which only rose 0.3%.

Despite the rise in profits, the company said trading conditions remained "difficult".

M&B has also confirmed plans to increase the number of its Harvester outlets, aiming to expand them from the current 170 to 400 by moving into smaller town centre locations.

It also plans to expand the number of its Toby Carvery sites from 133 to 300.

The company also hopes to target savings of £25m this year, and earmarked £25m towards its expansion plans.

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