Booming food sales together with drinks market share gains helped Mitchells & Butlers post a good performance in 2005.
Announcing the group's annual results for the year to October 1 2005, chief executive Tim Clarke said overall sales had grown 4.6 per cent to £1,662m, while pre-tax profits rose 10.4 per cent to £195m.
Noting the contribution of food sales to the numbers, Mr Clarke said M&B, which operates bars such as Browns, O'Neills and All Bar One, was "leading the growth of the rapidly expanding pub eating out market with food sales volumes up nine per cent".
However, as a result of the government's proposed food-led smoking ban, Mr Clarke said some pubs in the M&B estate - where there was a lower food sales mix - would see the provision of food being "reviewed".
The group had seen a £17m regulatory and energy cost increase, including £4m spent on licensing applications under the new licenisng act requirements.
The group also announced the launch of a £100m share buyback programme.
Current trading saw like-for-like activity up 3.8 per cent, lower growth than had been the previous trend, Mr Clarke said.
The group's residential estate had seen "encouraging volume gains" in the first seven weeks of the current year, while its high street pubs were experiencing tough competition, particularly from the late-night sector.