Mitchells and Butlers (M&B) has reported "strong performance" in its pub and restaurant businesses for the last 12 months, particularly since the end of the summer's World Cup.
In a trading statement for the 50 weeks prior to September 16th 2006, the firm, which owns both the Harvester and All Bar One brands, says sales were up 4.1 per cent.
Like for like sales in the ten weeks since the World Cup were up 5.3 per cent, with M&B admitting that its restaurants divisions had been especially hit by the football.
Overall sales in Scotland, which in March introduced a smoking ban in public places, still rose by 2.6 per cent, but this was below the levels experienced in England and Wales.
A statement released by M&B today said: "Trading conditions in the casual dining market are continuing to improve in line with the long term trends for eating out. Our pubs and our operating formats are ideally placed to capture that growth. Already over 35 per cent of Mitchells and Butlers' revenue is derived from food, with sales of some 96 million meals in a full year."
The firm, which acquired 239 additional restaurant sites in July, plans to announce its full-year financial results in November.
A spokesperson for M&B today claimed that the firm had managed to strengthen its "leadership position" in the pub food market and gain a "significant" share in the drinks market during the last year.