Mitchells & Butlers said like-for-like sales increased by 1.8% in the most recent 8 weeks. This represented a continuation of the improved trend both over time and relative to the total eating-out market, supported by favourable weather in recent weeks. "We continue to generate good sales growth from our invested sites, now starting to be underpinned by relative improvement in the performance of sites without recent investment," the company said. However, in the 51 weeks to Sept. 17, Mitchells & Butlers like-for-like sales were down for Food (-1.4%) and Drink (-0.1%), with their combined total down 0.8%. It said margins for the full year will be below last year, as previously advised, particularly as a result of acceleration of investment in the estate and wage inflation following the introduction of the National Living Wage in the second half. So far this financial year, the pub company has converted or remodelled 244 sites, and opened 7 new sites. CEO Phil Urban commented: "We are encouraged by our improved trading performance in recent months. Weather in recent weeks has certainly been helpful to sales, but in addition we are starting to benefit from increased investment activity, instilling a commercial culture and a faster pace of execution and innovation in our business. "We enter the new financial year facing an increasing number of cost headwinds, most notably labour. However, based on recent progress we remain committed to our strategy going forward." Mitchells & Butlers said separately that it had appointed Keith Browne as a non-executive director.
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