M&B back in profit despite tough trading
The UK pub chain Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), in which John Magnier and JP McManus hold a near 20pc stake, has returned to profit despite "a challenging year with a difficult consumer environment, board changes and a takeover approach".
Pre-tax profits for the year to September 24 were £132m (€152m) compared with a £127m (€146m) loss in the previous year.
Last month, billionaire investor Joe Lewis, who owns 23pc 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's 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."
Like-for-like sales, which measure revenue from outlets open at least a year, rose 2.6pc compared with the company's previous financial year.
For food, they rose 4.8pc, 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 had grown a further 2pc.
The UK pubs group sold about €500m worth of properties in the last 12 months. The sales were designed to help reduce the group's net debt from £2.3bn to £1.9bn.