Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), the UK’s biggest managed pub and restaurant group, has this morning unveiled same outlet like-for-like sales growth of 1.1% in the 10 weeks to 19 July. It said like-for-likes were ahead 0.8% in the first 42 weeks of its year. Unveiling its third-quarter interim management statement, the group said it had seen strong market share gains with food sales up 5.15 and drink declines limited to 0.2%. It said it expected market conditions to remain challenging amidst weakening consumer spending, and therefore it would continue to focus on its value and volume sales strategy. The group, led by Tim Clarke, said productivity gains and cost management measures helped offset cost pressures. It said higher food and energy prices would intensify next year. M&B’s residential sites – accounting for 76% of total sales – saw like-for-like sales growth of 2.0% in the 10 weeks, while its high street venues saw a 0.1% drop in like-for-likes, which reflected a “very challenging market for later evening venues offset by good growth in both the central London estate and our High Street pubs in the rest of the UK”. Average sales gains at the pub-restaurant sites acquired from Whitbread two years ago continue to average 20%. The company, which operates about 2,000 sites and serves over 110 million meals per year, has raised a total of £82m in disposals in the 42 weeks to date. It said it remained committed to realising value from non-core assets such as its budget hotel business, Hollywood Bowl tenpin arm and Alex, its chain of brasseries located in Germany. M&B said it continued to work on the possibility of converting to a Real Estate Investment Trust, without breaking existing long-term debt structures, and continued discussions with its advisers and HM Revenues & Customs. A banking facility had been agreed on its short-term borrowings, giving it access to £600m, at a blended rate of 6.1%. This facility would reduce down to £300m over three years. M&B said it expected earnings to be in line with expectations, and was confident of its “continued competitive outperformance”.