Restaurant sales at Mitchells & Butlers are up 5%, helped by the rising cost of food in supermarkets, according to chief executive Tim Clarke. He believes the inflated price of fresh food is boosting the low-cost catering industry, with restaurant visits now accounting for two thirds of the company’s pub trade. But like-for-like drinks sales have fallen 0.2% over the last 10 weeks to July 19 and the growth in overall outlet sales slowed to 1.1%, down from 3.4% in the first four weeks of the second half. Mr Clarke said beer sales were down for the whole market and blamed a “value problem” with supermarkets selling alcohol so much cheaper than pubs can. Analyst Matthew Gerard described it as “admirable performance” by M&B, which is still considering whether to turn itself into a tax-advantageous Real Estate Investment Trust. He said that although strong food sales growth stole the headlines, the performance in drinks and cost control “is perhaps more impressive”. The Daily Telegraph 26/07/08 pages 33 & 35(BusinessNews) The Guardian 26/07/08 page 40 (Financial) The Independent 26/07/08 page 51 (Business) The Times 26/07/08 page 55 (Business) Financial Times 26/07/08 pages 15 (Companies UK)