Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), the managed pub group, has unveiled a 1.2% increase in like-for-like sales in the nine weeks to 17 July – but said the World Cup had, in common with others, impacted food sales. Food like-for-like sales in the same nine weeks were down approximately 2% to 2.7%, which it said indicated an underlying growth rate of 3.2% during the period. Like-for-like sales for the 42 weeks to the same date were up by 1.6%, with food-led +3.9% and drink up slightly at +0.4%. Total sales were ahead by 2.1%. Revealing its third quarter margins were “slightly above” the same period last year, M&B said it was, “making good progress towards achieving the objectives laid out in our strategic plans and are confident in the future prospects of the business.” In a statement, the Harvester and Toby Carvery operator added: “There continues to be uncertainty in the outlook for discretionary expenditure and associated pressure on the UK's eating and drinking out market. “However, our core brands' effective marketing and value positioning have generated increases in sales and profitability this year and form a strong platform for future growth.” The company added that its net debt continued to reduce, with drawings on the unsecured medium term facility at £291m. This excluded the £88m raised by the recent disposal of 52 lodges.