The business that runs All Bar One, Nicholson’s and Ember Inns, among others, reported a 10.4% lfl sales boost for the first quarter of its financial year ended 7 January 2023, which encompassed a hike of 15.5% for drink sales and 6.4% for food compared to the same period last year. The group also reported a total sales growth of 13.3%.
In the 10 weeks to 3 December 2022, uplifts were 1.9% for food and 12.1% for drinks while the five weeks to 7 January showed 23.4% and 15.8% rises for drinks and food respectively.
M&B said growth had significantly increased in the last five weeks of its first quarter (Q1) due principally to last year being impacted by the emergence of the Omicron variant which resulted in a downturn in activity across much of the festive season.
Comparing to the same period in FY2019, the last full financial year before Covid-19, like-for like sales were up 8.9% over the first 15 weeks to 12 January 2019, with 9.2% growth in the first 10 weeks followed by 8.5% growth in the last five weeks, despite key recent weeks being negatively impacted by industrial action.
The group said it will focus on estate investment, premiumising where possible as well as improving amenity. In the year to date, it has completed 43 conversions and remodels and opened one new site, a second All Bar One at Edinburgh Airport.
Setting sales records
M&B chief executive Phil Urban said: “We are encouraged by a strong performance through the first quarter and delighted to have been able to welcome our guests back over the festive trading season after three years of disruption due to Covid-19, setting sales records as we did so.
“However, we are mindful the trading environment for the hospitality sector remains very challenging with inflationary costs putting sustained pressure both on the industry’s margins and disposable income of our guests.
“We remain focused on our Ignite programme of initiatives and our successful capital investment programme, driving cost efficiencies and increased sales. Combined with our diverse portfolio of established brands, value proposition and enviable estate locations, we believe we are well positioned to meet the challenges of the year ahead.”