By Marcus Leach

Mitchells & Butlers restaurant and pub group believe they are in a strong position to overcome the tough consumer environment expected in 2012 after posting financial results.

The firm, which had been subject to bids from currency trader Joe Lewis earlier this year, reported pre-tax profits that were down 7.7%, although in keeping with forecasts.

Result highlights:

- Total sales up 4.9% including food sales up 7.8%
- Operating profit up 1.1% and operating margin at 16.3%
- EBITDA returns of 21% achieved on expansionary capex invested over the last two years
- Net debt reduced by over £400m; net debt:EBITDA now at 4.7 times
- Like-for-like sales in FY 2011 of +2.6% with food like-for-like sales of +4.8%
- Like-for-like sales growth of 2.0% in first 8 weeks of FY 2012

"This is a resilient set of results despite a challenging year with a difficult consumer environment, board changes and a takeover approach," Bob Ivell, Executive Chairman, commented.

"Mitchells & Butlers is a good business and our ambition is to make it a great business. We have a number of initiatives in place to do this including the simplification of our central support functions to enhance business performance. Overall, this gives us confidence in successfully growing the business in the year ahead."

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