All Bar One and Harvester owner Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has seen a bounce-back in drinks sales, helped by Britain’s recent Indian summer.
The group, which also owns the Toby Carvery chain, said like-for-like sales rose 3.3% in the eight weeks to September 21.
This was driven by a 4% hike in drink sales while food sales growth slowed to 2.1%.
Drinks sales have been particularly strong in the fourth quarter... helped by the recent Indian summerAnna Barnfather, Liberum
The recent performance has left overall like-for-like sales 3.6% higher in the 51 weeks so far of its financial year to the end of September.
The drink performance marks a rebound from a tougher early summer, when drink sales fell 0.3% in the 10 weeks to July 27, reflecting the combination of the World Cup and hot summer in the previous year when punters spent more on drinks.
Anna Barnfather, an analyst at Liberum, said: “Drinks sales have been particularly strong in the fourth quarter, with like-for-like sales growth of 4% helped by the recent Indian summer.”
Shares lifted 2% after the update.
Phil Urban, chief executive of M&B, said: “Sales growth has remained consistently ahead of the market and we carry this momentum forward into the new financial year.”
He added that the group remained “confident” over the benefits of its so-called ignite initiative, which include improvements to the booking system and more labour efficiencies.
The company returned to profit growth in its first half, as a series of strategic investments helped it to save money and drive stronger sales.
It revealed in May that adjusted operating profit rose to £151 million in the 28 weeks to April 13, up from £141 million in the same period last year.
Mitchells has been revamping its estate, completing 239 conversions and remodels in the year so far, while opening seven new sites.