By Marcus Leach

Mitchells and Butlers, the company whose chains include All Bar One, Harvester, Toby Carvery and O'Neills, have reported a 4.4% increase in sales from the same time last year.

Like-for-like sales in the 9 weeks to 21 January 2012 were up 6.5%, assisted by the improved weather over this year's Christmas period. As a result, like-for-like sales in the first 17 weeks of the financial year were up 4.4%.

Trading in January has been more subdued but consistent with the underlying like-for-like sales trend first noted in July last year of around 1% growth.

"These results reflect a successful Christmas sales performance," executive chairman Bob Ivell said.

"Although assisted by better weather, they show that customers are still keen to treat themselves even in a difficult economic environment. I am encouraged by the progress that we have already made in a number of areas to re-focus the operations and improve the guest experience.

"This gives me confidence in our ability to successfully develop and grow the business in the year ahead."

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