But the group suffered a revolt by shareholders unhappy with the lack of independent directors on its board and the overbearing influence of its biggest shareholder, Joe Lewis.
At its annual shareholder meeting in Birmingham yesterday, 14.3% of investors voted against the re-election of M&B’s only two non-executive directors, Ron Robson and Doug McMahon, who represent Lewis’s investment vehicle, Piedmont.
The group, which owns the likes of the Harvester restaurant chain, and popular pub chains like All Bar One and the Irish-themed O’Neill’s, has had the two Irish financiers on its share register since 2007 and they have since built up a 20%-plus stake, through their Elpida investment vehicle.
Former finance minister, Ray MacSharry was also a previous non-executive director at M&B, until recent boardroom upheavals. The group’s biggest shareholder is British billionaire investor, Joe Lewis, who also has a majority shareholding in Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Mr Lewis, last year, led two rejected takeover approaches for Mitchells & Butlers.
Management yesterday said it was making “good progress” in the search for a new chief executive and in its attempts to strengthen the board with more non-executive directors.
The good showing in the last four months follows on from a 2.6% sales increase in the 12 months to the end of September. Executive chairman, Bob Ivell, said that management is encouraged by the progress being made and is confident in its ability to successfully develop and grow the business in the year ahead.