Mitchells sees the punters staying in

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The owner of some of Britain’s best known pubs revealed a sharp slowdown in sales yesterday as persistent rainfall dampened punters’ desire to head out.

Harvester and Toby Carvery owner Mitchells & Butlers said like-for-like sales growth nearly ground to a halt in the 11 weeks to April 7, rising just 0.2 per cent compared to 4.4 per cent in the 17 weeks to January 21.

Mitchells, which saw underlying pre-tax profits drop 8 per cent to £68m in the 28 weeks to April 7, said the heavy rainfall has seen a further slowdown in sales in the weeks running up to May 12, which hit both food and drink at its 1,600 UK sites.

The group, which also owns All Bar One, O’Neill’s and Crown Carveries, serves an estimated 125 million meals and 425 million drinks a year.

But Bob Ivell, executive chairman, said: “We have remained firmly on the front foot with a relentless focus on actions that will drive the medium and long term success of the business.”

Mr Ivell also said he was pleased with progress made in finding a new chief executive.

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