Mitchells & Butlers calls time on chief executive Alistair Darby

Alistair Darby, the outgoing chief executive of All Bar One and Harvester owner Mitchells & Butlers,

Alistair Darby, the outgoing chief executive of All Bar One and Harvester owner Mitchells & Butlers, who leaves on Saturday. - Credit: PA

All Bar One and Harvester owner Mitchells & Butlers has called time on chief executive Alistair Darby after a washout summer prompted it to warn over profits.

Mr Darby will leave the group this weekend with a year’s salary of £543,500 as a payout, but is unlikely to receive an annual bonus with performance targets not expected to be achieved.

He will be replaced by Phil Urban, who joined the company as chief operating officer in January from Grosvenor Casinos, and previously ran Whitbread’s pub restaurants division. His salary will be £510,000.

Mitchells said like-for-like sales were up 1% in the 50 weeks to September 12, although they fell 0.7% in the final seven weeks.

The Birmingham-based group said: “The UK eating and drinking out market has been subdued in the summer, leading to a slight slowdown in the rate of sales growth, exacerbated by the wet weather.”

It added that results for the year to September 26 were expected to show growth on last year “although, on the basis of this recent trading, to be at the bottom end of the range of current market expectations”. Shares fell 3%.

Mitchells said that despite the slow market it was “confident in our ability to meet the challenges of high consumer expectations and forthcoming cost pressures”.

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Food like-for-like sales were up by 2.1% in the 50-week period, though down by 0.2% over the summer. Drink sales were 1.4% lower in the most recent seven weeks.

Mr Darby leaves on Saturday after three years in the role, having been appointed chief executive in October 2012.

His tenure has been challenging, with profits last year falling 13.4% to £123 million.

Chairman Bob Ivell said: “The non-executive directors have considered the issue of the leadership of M&B very carefully and are delighted to announce Phil’s appointment.

“The board recognises the significant contribution made by Alistair as chief executive over the past three years, is grateful to him for bringing the business to a stronger position and wishes him well in the future.”

Mitchells operates around 1,700 restaurants and pubs in the UK under brands also including Toby Carvery, Oak Tree Pubs, Browns and O’Neill’s. It employs more than 43,000 people.