By contrast with yesterdays report from Marston's, the H1 results announced today from M&B look disappointing. M&B operate about 1,600 pubs and restaurants and, like Marston's, they have seen a 2.7% LFL increase in sales. M&B reported pre-tax profits for the 28 weeks to April 7 of £42 million which are down £1 million from last year.

M&B blame the fall on rising cost pressures, a refrain Tim Martin has made recently. But one wonders whether the company is being managed as well as it might be, given the boardroom tensions ongoing while a new CEO and non-Exec's are found. Operating margin in the core estate is down from 14.9% to 14.2% due to cost increases in energy, food, duties, wages etc.

In H1, M&B has managed 35 new site openings and 7 conversions, with expansionary capex of £42 million. It has opened its 200th Harvester, a major milestone for the brand.

Bob Ivell, Executive Chairman, commented:

"Despite challenging trading conditions, we remain confident that we can deliver a full year result in line with expectations."

Shares in M&B closed last night at 246p which values the business at £1.007 billion.