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Thu 26th Sep 2013 - M&B reports sales down in fourth quarter
Mitchells & Butlers reports like-for-likes down 1% in nine weeks to 21 September: Mitchells & Butlers has reported like-for-like sales dropped 1% in the nine weeks to 21 September, with food like-for-likes down 0.1% and drink like-for-likes down 2%. The company was trading against a strong comparative from the year before when sales were up 3%. However, the company stated this morning that it expects to deliver a full year result in line with the Board’s expectations. Total sales growth in the first 51 weeks of its financial year was 2.1%. Through the second half, the group operating margin remained ahead of last year. The company stated: “At the same time, we have maintained our investment into guest-facing service and amenity. We have opened 16 new sites and converted or expanded six sites this financial year. The development of our pipeline of new sites for FY14 and FY15 is progressing well and we expect to increase investment into our most successful brands to open around 50 new sites a year over the medium term.” Chief executive Alistair Darby: “I am pleased with the progress we have made this year, while continuing to make the changes needed to position the business for the future. Based on detailed consumer insight, we have focused our brands on delivering improved performance across a small number of priority areas. These include further improvements in team engagement, operational practices and guest service, which will deliver the next stage of growth.”

Two new restaurants given two Michelin stars: Two restaurants have been promoted from one to two Michelin stars in the latest edition of the Michelin Guide - Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, led by head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts and The Greenhouse which showcases Arnaud Bignon’s cooking. The 15 new one stars include Wilks, an unpretentious neighbourhood restaurant in Bristol, and Campagne, a contemporary Kilkenny restaurant. In London, Lima is the first Peruvian restaurant to gain a star and highlights the increasing popularity of South American cuisine. There are two seafood restaurants awarded one star (Angler and Outlaw’s at The Capital); two Chinese restaurants (HKK and Bo London); a star for another of Jason Atherton’s restaurants (Social Eating House); and stars for a young British chef (Story in Bermondsey) and an experienced French chef returning to the UK (Brasserie Chavot). “We have never produced a GB & Ireland guide that provides our readers with such diversity and variety,” said editor Rebecca Burr. “Fantastic B&Bs, wonderful pubs, stylish hotels, world class restaurants and great value eateries – we have them all in our guide. In the last year we’ve seen the rise of relaxed counter dining but also the opening of some big brasseries. Dining is becoming a less structured, less formal affair and opening times and menus are more flexible to reflect the way we live our lives. Single concept restaurants focusing on one or two dishes have also continued to open. The Michelin guide has always reflected what’s out there and London in particular has never offered so much choice – there really is something for everyone and for every occasion and there appears to be no end to the number of exciting new restaurant openings. With cuisines and culinary influences from all parts of the globe, it’s no surprise that the capital is one of the most exciting cities in the world for food.We’ve seen internationally acclaimed chefs open restaurants over here but we’re also delighted to witness the rise of the next generation of talented British chefs and the continued evolution of British cooking.” This year’s selection also sees 27 new Bib Gourmands – the award which recognises those establishments offering good food at affordable prices (the limit being £28 for three courses) and one that is hugely popular with our readers. The guide now has 143 ‘Bibs’ and this year’s newcomers stretch from Edinburgh (Galvin Brasserie de Luxe) and Belfast (Coppi and Home) to Ramsbottom (Hearth of the Ram) and Newlyn (Tolcarne Inn).

Orchid reports carvery like-for-like sales up 5.8% over the summer: Orchid has reported that its carvery division saw like-for-like sales up 5.8%, with food sales up 6.4% over the summer. “Some businesses struggle with the carvery model, it’s by no means easy! That said with a focused approach to delivering a consistent consumer offering, we are enjoying very impressive results across the division,” says Simon Dodd, commercial & people director at Orchid Group. “We have worked hard to ensure that each pub is part of the local community and provides an offering that is suited to the pubs location, this is key to creating long term sustainable businesses. Great British Carvery pubs are much more than roast dinners every day of the week; they are at the heart of the community and offer a warm, welcoming environment for every single customer.” Orchid has also recently spent £30,000 across the division on new crockery and cutlery to make every single meal special. “Combined with Red Tractor Farm Assured meats, a commitment to sustainability and reducing waste, and dedicated staff who make every visit special, Great British Carvery pubs something we can be very proud of,” Dodd added.

22% of Star Pubs & Bars lessees sign up to Sky discount in first eight weeks: Eight weeks after its launch nearly a quarter of Star Pubs & Bars’ 1,300 lessees have signed up to the company’s new deal on Sky Ultimate subscriptions which gives them a 30% discount on the service when they stock a specified range of Heineken products. The offer has proven attractive to a wide range of operators across the UK with pubs of all kinds from community locals to food-orientated outlets. The highest take up rates to date are in Cumbria and the Manchester and Edinburgh areas. Feedback reveals that lessees’ primary reason for signing up to the deal is to leverage Sky’s content to drive incremental business. They are also concerned to follow best practice on maximising trade from sport to ensure they do this. Operators are already reporting increased trade as a result of offering Sky as well as unexpectedly high sales of new products they are stocking. Said Chris Jowsey, Star Pubs & Bars trading director: “Lessees aren’t just seeing Sky as a valuable overhead but as an investment in their business to grow trade. Our whole focus as a company is on helping operators increase their sales and profits. While it’s still early days, it’s very satisfying to hear anecdotes from all over the country of how this deal is already paying off and encouraging operators to give Sky a try.”

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