MWB Group, the operator of the Hotel du Vin, Bistro du Vin and Malmaison hotel chains, has reported a softening in demand for both accommodation and food & beverage across its estate, which resulted in a decrease in volumes for the first four months of its latest financial year. The company said that trading for the period from 1 July to 18 November had been “particularly challenging” as consumer confidence has been hit by a combination of the continuing economic uncertainty in the UK and the more recent concerns about the impact of the euro crisis. It said that like-for-like food & beverage revenues for the period were down 2.8% compared to the same period in 2010. However, including its two new Bistro du Vins in London, which opened earlier this year, the group’s total food and beverage revenue increased 2.9%. It said that room rates had continued to improve, with Malmaison delivering a revenue per available room performance in line with the prior year. It said that its overall revenue for the four month period was 1.5% ahead of last year. However, the group said that Malmaison continued to experience “significant upward pressure on its cost base from general cost inflation and a substantial increase in local authority rates across the country”. The company said it had implemented several strategies to mitigate the resultant margin erosion but, despite this, the hotel group saw like-for-like operating costs increase by 4.3% during the period. Yesterday, MWB announced it had five hotel sales and leasebacks for £102.9m. Proceeds from the sales and leasebacks have been used to reduce Malmaison's borrowings by approximately £100m to £180m. In a statement the group said: “The completion of the Malmaison transactions, along with the group refinancing that was completed in June 2011, provide a more stable platform from which our operating businesses can move forward. “Whilst our customers continue to appreciate the quality services and products of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin our management teams realise that in the current economic climate they need to adapt to changing market conditions to maximise occupancies and revenues and to efficiently manage costs. We remain confident in their ability to do so throughout the remainder of the financial year.”