Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 12:46 UK

M&B increases restaurant outlets

Drinks being served at All Bar One branch
M&B owns the All Bar One and Harvester chains

Pub group Mitchells & Butlers, whose brands include Harvester and All Bar One, is acquiring 44 restaurants from Whitbread in return for 21 hotel sites.

The pubs M&B is gaining are currently stand-alone outlets known under the Brewers Fayre and Beefeater brands.

The lodges it is handing to Whitbread are Express by Holiday Inn hotels.

The move comes after Punch Taverns withdrew its plan to merge with M&B earlier this year, following an economic downturn.

At the time, Punch chief executive Giles Thorley said the changing economic outlook had made the deal less attractive.

Pubs have been hit by poor weather, the smoking ban and a squeeze on consumer's disposable income.

M&B owns and runs some 2,000 pubs nationwide.

Commenting on the transaction with Whitbread, which also owns Costa Coffee, Tim Clarke, chief executive of M&B, said: "This deal drives further consolidation in top and managed houses and demonstrates our ability to create value from non-core assets".

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