Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has this morning reported an overall like-for-like sales decline of 1.6% in the six months to 9 April 2016, with sales uplifts from invested sites in excess of 10% being offset by a decline across the group’s uninvested estate.

Total revenue for the period stood at £1.096bn, down 1.5% on the previous year, whilst adjusted operating profit was £156m, up 2%. Capital expenditure during the half-year was £88m (H1 2015: £94m), including for new site openings and 22 conversions.

The company, which has completed a review of its strategic options, said that although profitability had improved in the first half, sales had remained challenging.

It said that the review had concluded that the best approach to driving shareholder value was through accelerating the level of innovation and investment in the business to generate organic growth, supplemented where appropriate with selective site acquisitions and disposals. The company said it had made “good early progress in this respect”.

The company said it was reviewing its pricing strategies across all of its brands and looking carefully at how to best exploit opportunities for guests to trade-up, by ensuring an appropriate level of price is attached to more premium products.

On recent trading, it said: “Following a challenging trading period with subdued sales but margin growth, our sales performance in recent weeks has been more encouraging. We are cognisant of the challenge of future wage cost increases but will continue to execute our plans at pace to build on this performance.”

Phil Urban, chief executive, said: “During the last six months we have completed a review of our strategic options. I am very clear that our best route for delivering sustainable returns for our shareholders is through the acceleration of organic growth: to maximise the return on the high-quality assets we own. Our plan, to reshape the estate and innovate in both existing and new offers for our guests, is now well under way and I have every confidence in its success.”

M&B said it had completed a full review of the estate, with a plan for every individual site to be achieved by 2020. It said that this plan was aimed at building a more premium estate, by converting sites where appropriate into growth concepts, and with a small number of selected disposals.

The company said it had accelerated its investment in remodels and conversions and id now aiming for 300 to 350 sites per year, equivalent to a five to six year investment cycle compared to the cycle of over 10 years on which it has been operating.

It said that this acceleration has begun already, with 142 remodels completed in the first half of this year, compared with 97 in the same period last year.

The group said that this estate plan will result in its taking action across the premium, mid-market and value areas of its estate.

At the premium end of its estate, its will look to grow the Miller & Carter brand towards 100 sites by 2018, from a current level of 43. It completed three Harvester to Miller & Carter conversions in the first half, all of which it said traded very well in their first few months with EBITDA returns well in excess of the targeted 30%. Following these early successes and given the strength of the Miller & Carter brand proposition, it has identified a number of further sites which are suitable for conversion to the brand.

Over time it said that would look to reduce the scale of its current 233-strong Harvester estate to a core, all of which will be remodelled within the next 18 months, offering a “consistent proposition and a level of amenity to truly leverage the brand’s strength”.

Within its value-led sites, the company will continue to roll out its successful Pizza & Carvery format, of which there are currently 14 sites that previously traded as Crown Carveries. It said that these sites have been trading well, generating EBITDA returns of around 25%. It will convert around 20 more by the end of FY 2016, with plans for a total of more than 80 by 2018. M&B said that the format offers a “compelling conversion opportunity” for a number of our Crown Carveries sites, and selected sites from the unconverted Orchid estate.

In the current year, the group has accelerated its capital programme and anticipates delivering around 260 remodels and conversions plus 10 new site openings, at a total capital cost of around £180m. Next year it anticipates delivering around 300 remodels and conversions, supplemented by around 15 new site openings, at a total capital cost of around £200m.

In terms of building a sales culture, the company said it had installed a dedicated sales team in London, to focus purely on booking its trading spaces. It said that this team is not aligned to individual brands or sites, rather it is in place to provide a single point of contact and consistent approach to working with third parties to drive new sales into its locations.

It has also introduced a sales incentive scheme for the second half of this financial year, with each of its sites able to achieve bonus payments on a weekly basis for delivery of stretching targets. It said that early results from the scheme are positive.

The company is also providing dedicated sales training sessions for all of its house managers and area managers within the next two months.