Profits fall at Mitchells & Butlers as snow and competition bites pubs chain

Joanna Bourke
Pubs chain Mitchells & Butlers is behind brands such as Toby Carvery

The boss of Toby Carvery owner Mitchells & Butlers, on Wednesday said that more in the casual dining industry will fall, as he revealed a drop in profits.

Phil Urban warned that a number of restaurant groups have been using more aggressive discounting to pull in customers amid increased competition and weaker consumer confidence.

Chains such as Jamie’s Italian and Prezzo have closed sites and Urban forecast other companies would follow suit. He said: “There is no reason to think the macro landscape will get easier.”

The pubs chief said that — what with discounting, higher overheads and £12 million in lost sales from the snow — pre-tax profits fell 8% to £69 million in the 28 weeks to April 14.

The firm was more upbeat as it reported comparable sales rose 1.6%. Total revenues edged up slightly to £1.13 billion.

Separately today, pubs group Marston’s said first-half revenues rose 20% to £528.1 million. Comparable sales were largely flat, affected by bad weather.

Shares in Marston’s fell 6.1p to 105.9p, and those in Mitchells & Butlers were down 20.28p to 254.92p.

Both companies are expecting a World Cup boost to sales this summer.

C&C’s Matthew Clark is ‘back on its feet’

Magners cider maker C&C on Wednesday said its new wholesale business Matthew Clark is getting “back on its feet”, six weeks after it saved the firm from failed retailer Conviviality.

The Irish drinks company agreed to buy distributors Matthew Clark and Bibendum last month from administrators. That safeguarded 2000 jobs.

C&C’s chief executive Stephen Glancey said: “Stock levels are up to 92%, from around 54% when we bought it.”

C&C sales for the year to February 28 fell 4.9% to €548.2 million (£480.8 million).

Pre-tax profits fell to €79.2 million from €87.2 million.

It is battling more competition from rival Heineken, and currency fluctuations.