Mitchell & Butlers eyes takeaway market

Pub and restaurant operator Mitchell & Butlers is moving into the take-away food market as it looks at ways to switch to a food-led business.

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The company is testing a takeaway menu at eight of its Harvester restaurants. The trial will be extended to recently opened sites, including the O2 Arena, with a wider rollout if it proves successful. It also plans to test a takeaway menu for Toby Carvery.

The company is pursuing a long-term strategy to move away from the “price-sensitive drinks-led business” to concentrate on its food offering.

It hopes to increase the number of Harvester sites to 400 and the number of Toby Carvery sites to 300 outlets nationwide. It has opened high street variants of Harvester and outlets in leisure parks and retail parks.

Mitchell & Butlers has sold some of its pub assets, offloading 333 pubs to Stonegate Pub Company for £373m in August last year. M&B’s pub and bar brands include All Bar One and O’Neill’s.

The company recently credited the focus on food for improving sales by 2.8% in 2010. Food sales increased by 4.7%, while drink sales rose 1.4%.

M&B announced last month that chairman John Lovering, who helped develop the strategy to focus on food, is to step down.

Separately, Harvester has announced it will print dish-by-dish calorie information on menus. The decision comes ahead of a Department of Health “responsibility deal”, expected to be announced next week, that will see many brands display calorie information.

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