The Press Association- Two of the UK's biggest pub chains will reveal next week whether April's wash-out weather has dampened sales.
Harvester owner Mitchells & Butlers will suffer a hangover from a cocktail of rising taxes and food costs when it reports half-year results on Friday. The group, which also owns the All Bar One, Toby Carvery, O'Neill's, Brown's, and Sizzling Pubs brands, reported a resilient 4.4% sales increase in the 17 weeks to January 21, with pub grub driving the growth.
However, trading slowed in January and is expected to have remained subdued in February, although March's heatwave should have provided a lift.
But the group, which has around 1,600 sites in the UK, has been struggling to pass on rising costs, including food and energy prices and hikes in alcohol duty, to customers.
Underlying earnings are expected to fall to between £135 million and £138 million in the six months to early April, compared to £141 million in the previous half-year.
Mitchells, which serves an estimated 125 million meals and 425 million drinks a year, previously said it is trying to offset some of the rising costs by growing sales and introducing 'menu initiatives' but it will be pressed on whether it is making progress.
Meanwhile, strong sales of pub food will boost Pedigree and Hobgoblin brewer Marston's on Thursday. The Pitcher & Piano and Tavern Table firm has already reported a 3.5% rise in like-for-like sales in the 23 weeks to March 10, while profits at its tenanted pubs were about 3% ahead of last year.