British pub owner M&B returns to profitability

BRITAIN’s largest pub owner, Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) — which counts Irish businessmen John Magnier and JP McManus as shareholders — has reported a 5% increase in annual revenue and a return to profitability.

The Birmingham-headquartered group — which owns a number of pub chains in Britain, including All Bar One and the Irish-themed O’Neill’s — generated a pre-tax profit of £132 million (€153m) during the 12 months to the end of September; a turnaround from a loss of £127m for the previous year.

Annual revenue climbed from £1.68 billion to £1.76bn; while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) was up by 1.8% to £398m and operating profit rose by 1.1% to £288m.

The previous year’s loss per share of 20.6p was transformed into earnings per share of 30.7p, meanwhile.

Group chairman, Bob Ivell said yesterday, the figures represented “a resilient set of results, despite a challenging year with a difficult consumer environment, board changes and a takeover approach”.

M&B’s board recently rebuffed a takeover approach from the group’s single largest shareholder, Joe Lewis; while media speculation in the summer, arose linking Mr Magnier and Mr McManus — who, through their Elpida investment vehicle — own over 20% of the business with a potential takeover move.

“Mitchells & Butlers is a good business and our ambition is to make it a great business. We’ve a number of initiatives in place to do this, including the simplification of our central support functions to enhance business performance. Overall, this gives us confidence in successfully growing the business in the year ahead,” Mr Ivell added.

M&B’s made a decent start to its current financial year; the first eight weeks of which saw like-for-like sales growth of 2%. Net debt was reduced by over £400m.

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