by The PMA Team Mitchells & Butlers is trialling its first rural gastro-pub. The Cock, at Wishaw, near Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, was opened four months ago and offers top-quality pub food prepared fresh on the premises. The managed pubco is now planning to open two more rural gastro-pubs in the coming months after promising results at the Cock, which was part of the package of 550 former Allied Domecq pubs the company acquired in 1999. An M&B spokesman said: "We have this one site and two more in the pipeline the Woolpack in Aylsebury towards the end of the year and the Saxon Mill in Warwick in the first quarter of next year. "The Cock is doing very well indeed, offering modern pub cuisine that's a cut above the normal pub venue but still offering great value. "It's part of our programme of innovation we are very focused on our current plans, but we look at other opportunities as well." The Cock offers salads, stone-fired pizzas, pasta, fish and rotisserie items with no mention of Mitchells & Butlers' ownership. News of the gastro-pub trial comes as Mitchells & Butlers revealed its prices, which were between one and 3% lower last month than the year before, would fall by a further 1% during 2004. The price reductions, good weather and marketing activity had seen like-for-like sales grow by 2% in the 19 weeks since 10 May this year. Trading conditions in the high street and in central London"remained tough", however, with uninvested like-for-like sales down 2.7%. A total of 135 pub conversion schemes are planned for the coming year with a total capital spend of £150m for the year the sale of selected sites will raise £50m. The company reported that the increase in the national minimum wage to £4.50 in October will cost the business £10m with property rates, insurance and pensions costing another £7m. M&B has also now opened six sites for its new value-driven high street concept that uses the bar's postcode as a name. Edward's sites in Lincoln, Grimsby and Hounslow and Goose venues in Swansea, Bolton and Clapham have all now been rebranded. An M&B spokesman said: "It's going swimmingly. We'll see what happens in the trial but we're fairly convinced it's the way forward for the high street.