Mitchells & Butlers has continued to see solid sales momentum from continuing operations, following its decision to dispose of hundreds of drinks-led pubs.

For the first 17 weeks of Mitchells & Butlers' (M&B) fiscal year, to 21 January, the UK pub group reported sales in its retained business up by 7.5%. The rise partly reflects a tough Christmas trading period in 2010, due to bad weather, but also the higher level of performance from the firm's smaller estate of food-driven pubs. 

Including the impact of disposals, M&B said today (26 January) that its 17-week sales rose by 4.4% on a like-for-like basis. It said that momentum has slowed in January, but sales are still ahead of the previous year.

Although the firm said that the economic outlook is challenging for the UK in general, and the on-trade specifically, several planned pub openings should help to insulate the group.