Food continues to prop up the pub industry as drinks sales decline, pub operator Mitchells & Butlers said as it revealed a sales rise.
The chain posted a 1.1 per cent increase in like-for-like sales in the ten weeks to July 19th, despite an overall decline in the sector, prompting its shares to rise slightly in morning trading.
"With around two thirds of total sales now generated by a food-driven visit and beer accounting for only approximately a quarter of sales, the repositioning of the estate and its offers has ensured that Mitchells & Butlers is well placed to benefit from these long term, structural trends," the company said in its interim statement.
Beer sales fell by around ten per cent over the last quarter, Mitchells & Butlers said.
Value food sales in Pub & Carvery (average main meal price of £3.96) and Sizzling Pub Co. (average main meal price of £4.94), were particularly strong, the company added.
As for the company's conversion to estate investment trust (REIT) status, which would allow it to unlock value from its land, Mitchells & Butlers said it was "continuing discussions with advisers".
Mitchells & Butlers said its outlook was unchanged, although it expected the market to "remain challenging amidst weakening consumer spending".
Rival pub operator Enterprise Inns warned its profits this year are under pressure earlier this week, blaming a fall in consumer confidence. Enterprise Inns said it would decide in the autumn whether it will apply for REIT status.