Mitchells & Butlers, the UK’s largest managed pub and bar group by sales, has unveiled like-for-like sales growth of 3% for the 51 weeks to 17 September. For the last 19 weeks to 17 September, like-for-likes grew 2.7%, on an uninvested basis. In a pre-close update, the group warned that consumer spending continues to weaken but said that it remained “confident that our strategy of investing in our brands and leveraging our scale economies will enable us to capture additional market share”. The latest like-for-like measures included 89% of the group’s 2,000 pubs. “Same outlet” like-for-likes, including assets subject to capital expenditure of more than £30,000, were up 4.7% for the last 19 weeks and 4.8% for the past 51 weeks. The measure accounts for 95% of the estate. Total retail sales in the 51-week period were up 4.4%. On a segmented basis, uninvested like-for-like sales in its residential pubs – which account for 70% of the estate and include formats such as Ember Inns, Harvester and Toby – were up 3.3% in the last 19 weeks and 3.6% for the 51 weeks to 17 September. On an invested basis, residential like-for-likes were up 5.7% for both the past 19 weeks and the 51 weeks to date. Uninvested like-for-likes at its high street pubs rose 1.9% in the last 19 weeks and 2.3% for the 51 weeks to date. On a “same outlet” basis, like-for-likes were up 3.0% and 3.3% respectively. The group confirmed that the London terrorist attacks in July had a significant impact on its London business. Same outlet like-for-like sales growth in the capital was 7.6% in the 40 weeks prior to the bombings, but had slowed to 2.2% in the ensuing 11 weeks. Although the company is seen as a buyer of assets rather than a seller – having recently been linked with Spirit Group – some analysts have questioned why the business continues to operate high street businesses given the superior performance of its residential portfolio plus the wide interest in town centre businesses. M&B said that retail prices were largely unchanged and that it had broadly maintained its gross margins despite the faster growth of lower-margin products such as food and wine. Average sales per managed pub per week rose 8% to £16,400 in the 51 weeks It said that with strong volume growth and a continued focus on costs it had maintained net operating margins despite having absorbed some £17m in regulatory and energy cost increases. Next year it expects to incur external cost increases between £23m and £27m. The group said that its £100m share buyback programme announced last December had now been completed.