Mitchells to focus on making dining out a special occasion

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Mitchells & Butlers, the UK’s biggest operator of managed pubs with 1,600 sites, yesterday placed upmarket, special occasions and family dining at the centre of an investment drive worth up to £80m a year.

The Harvester, O’Neill’s and All Bar One owner, which employs 40,000 people, said the three sectors were worth £35bn and currently benefit from the most attractive consumer trends.

It has set aside £30m in capital expenditure in the current year to October but this will subsequently rise to between £50m and £80m a year.

The biggest sector of the market is special occasion dining, with the company’s brands and formats including Vintage Inns and Miller & Carter.

Upmarket social is focused on urban and suburban locations and includes the Mitchells brands All Bar One and Nicholson’s, while its main family dining formats are Harvester and Toby Car- very.

Mitchells said yesterday: “We will invest in these areas and expand our brands where possi-ble.”

Its other two trading spaces cover its local pubs Ember Inns and O’Neill’s and its value eating out brands such as Crown Carveries and Sizzling Pubs.

In half-year results released yesterday, Mitchells reported a 5 per cent rise in adjusted profits to £145m after like-for-like sales rose by 0.3 per cent in the six months to April 13.

The figure was 1 per cent higher in the first five weeks of the second half.

It said: “Despite the economic downturn, we have delivered a 45 per cent increase in food sales since 2007 and around three-quarters of our turnover is now generated from the guests who eat in our restaurants and pubs.”

The company said it was working on various projects to reduce staff turnover, including redesigned training programmes and a new framework for developing future leaders.