British pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers has reported strong sales for the festive season as more diners opted for its pricier healthy menu options.
The owner of All Bar One and Toby Carvery pubs and restaurants said that like-for-like sales rose 2.6% in the 14 weeks to January 4, driven by a 3% rise in food sales.
"This is particularly impressive given the challenging prior year comparatives, election disruption and wet weather," Liberum analysts said, adding that growth in food sales was because of the wet weather, which discourages drinking out.
Founded in 1898, the company relied on beer for the bulk of its sales in the 1980s, but now approximately three quarters of its total sales come from food.
Setting The Bar High
Mitchells & Butlers is the first large pub company to report its performance for December, setting the bar high for those to follow, Liberum analysts said.
CEO Phil Urban said in November that he did not expect the timing of the election in the UK to interfere with Christmas parties and sales. "The election drags people out of their houses. The chances are they might hop in for a drink or a meal so it's probably good news," he said.