Pub group Mitchells & Butlers yesterday said it had replaced its CEO Alistair Darby with insider Phil Urban as it warned weak trading would push full-year profit to the bottom end of forecasts.
The group, whose pubs include Harvester, Toby Carvery, and All Bar One, said Urban would take control on September 27 with Darby’s three-year tenure ending the day before.
Chairman Bob Ivell said the group’s non-executive directors had considered the issue of leadership very carefully before appointing Urban.
“The change would suggest the board [and the principal shareholders] are unhappy at the speed of change within the business as evidenced by the accompanying trading update,” Cenkos analyst Simon French said.
Under Darby, the firm has tried to improve profits by refurbishing its estate, increasing marketing and targeting higher volumes of food sales with cheap deals, but its underlying performance has lagged some of its rivals and margins have been squeezed.
For the first 50 weeks of the year total sales, which include new openings, were up 7%, but sales at pubs open for more than a year were up by just 1%, it said.
Analysts had forecast full-year pre-tax profit in a range of £179.40m (€247.2m) to £203.9m.
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