LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) - British pub groups Marston’s and Mitchells & Butlers both reported a rise in first half profit on Thursday, helped by new openings and growing demand for casual dining.
Marston‘s, which has some 1,600 pubs and brews ales such as Pedigree and Hobgoblin, said underlying pretax profit for the six months to April 4 grew 2 percent to 29.6 million pounds ($47 million), despite increased pension costs and disposals.
Total group revenue rose 3 percent to 384.5 million pounds, with like-for-like sales up 1.5 percent at its food-led, family focused managed pubs, the centre of Marston’s expansion plans.
Similar trading trends had continued into the second half, the firm said.
Rivals Mitchells & Butlers, whose pubs include Harvester and Toby Carvery, posted a 4.1 percent rise in first half adjusted pretax profit to 75 million pounds, in line with expectations, on total revenue up almost 10 percent to 1.1 billion pounds.
Underlying sales in the period rose 1.7 percent, with new pubs and restaurants helping to generate the rest of the growth.
As expected, operating margins fell 0.8 percentage points however, due to lower contributions from its Orchid pubs acquisition and its strategy of growing food volumes with lower prices and cheaper items such as breakfasts.
Chiquito and Frankie & Benny’s operator Restaurant Group also reported on trading on Thursday, posting a 8.5 percent rise in total sales for the 19 weeks to May 10 and like-for-like sales growth of 2.0 percent.
The group, which has about half of some 470 outlets next to cinemas, said it expected to report a good first half performance and anticipated a boost to second half trade from a strong film release schedule including James Bond and Star Wars.
$1 = 0.6350 pounds Reporting by Neil Maidment; editing by James Davey