Mitchells sees the punters staying in

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.

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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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