Mitchells & Butlers saw like-for-like sales grow 2.6% in the 10 weeks to 22 July.

The rise was driven by drink sales which were up 3.8% on a like-for-like basis for the period, compared to 1.3% growth for food.

Like-for-like sales in the year to date were up 2%, made up of like-for-like rises of 2.7% for drink and 1.4% for food. Total sales in the year to date grew 3.1%.

The group reiterated its warning that increased cost pressure is expected to lead to margins being lower than last year.

M&B has opened 13 new sites and completed 224 conversions and remodels in the financial year to date.

Chief executive Phil Urban said: “Sales performance since the half year has been encouraging, with strengthening like-for-likes helped by the sunny weather and continued outperformance to the marketa. The cost headwinds we face remain challenging. However, we are working hard to mitigate these where we can and we are confident that continued focus on the three strategic priority areas we have identified will help us to deliver a performance for the full year in line with the Board’s expectations and will generate long term sustainable shareholder value.”

The company has now reached agreement on the 2016 triennial pensions valuation with the scheme trustees. The agreed deficit of £451m as at 31 March 2016 (2013: £572m) will be funded by an unchanged level of cash contributions (of £46m pa indexed) to 2023, as per the agreement reached in 2013.

In 2024 an additional payment of £13m will be made into escrow, should such further funding be required at that time.