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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007, 12:01 GMT
Strong food sales boost pub chain

Pub chain Mitchells & Butlers has reported strong trading over Christmas, boosted by rising food sales.

Mitchells & Butlers owns about 2,000 pubs including such brands as Harvester, All Bar One and Browns.

Overall, its sales rose 4% over the last four months thanks to 7% growth in food sales and strong trading over the festive period.

There was even a small rise in sales in Scotland despite the ban on smoking in pubs, which was introduced in March.

Smoking ban

Mitchells & Butlers' chief executive Tim Clarke is still concerned about what will happen if there is a cold snap, which might persuade some smokers to stay at home rather than having to smoke outside.

"I wouldn't be at all surprised if we went into negative territory in February with some bad weather," he said.

The group added that it was making "excellent progress" in converting the 200 pubs it bought from Whitbread last July.

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