Mitchells and Butlers saw like-for-like sales decline by 6% during the 15-week period ending 8 January 2022 as the impact of the Omicron variant hit.
The group said that the impact was particularly felt in the most recent four weeks, over the festive season, during which like-for-like sales have been down 10.2%.
Meanwhile the group reiterated that in the current year inflationary cost headwinds are expected to be “higher than the normal” pre-Covid level of £60m to £65m, due particularly to high levels of statutory wage rate increases and “historic” high prices in energy markets.
In addition, the company currently has cash balances on hand of £235m, with undrawn unsecured facilities of £150m.
Phil Urban, chief executive, said: “This first quarter performance represents a robust performance given the challenges the industry faces from the rapid spread of the new variant both in terms of reduced consumer activity and disruption caused by the inevitable isolation of team members.
“We are encouraged by the latest data on the Omicron variant which we believe will boost consumers’ confidence to return to pubs and restaurants allowing us to regain the momentum which was beginning to build, supported by the benefits from our new set of Ignite initiatives.”