Rainy days put a damper on sales at M&B

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The Independent Online

Mitchells & Butlers, the owner of some of Britain's best-known pubs, said yesterday that sales had fallen during April as the rain poured down.

Its chairman Bob Ivell, who is heading the business while it recruits a new chief executive, said: "People forget that this time last year we were all sitting outside in beer gardens enjoying the sunshine. This year everybody's been huddled indoors or going to the cinema." But he added that M&B had still outperformed its competitors with a 2.7 per cent rise in pubs that it has owned for at least a year. This was split between 4.4 per cent growth in the first 17 weeks and just 0.2 per cent in the remaining 11 weeks.

Mr Ivell said: "Given the pressure the consumer is under and the weather, we reckon that's pretty good and slightly ahead of what the market expected."

M&B's first half pre-tax profits fell £1m to £42m, although its preferred measure, operating profit, rose 1.5 per cent to £138m.

M&B ousted its chief executive, Adam Fowle, in March 2011. Mr Ivell said that he was "pleased with the progress being made to appoint a new chief executive".