- Pub group Mitchells & Butlers, while launching a planned £350 million equity raising, said its sales had fallen sharply due to the UK's Covid-19 lockdown.

Managed sales between 27 September and 16 January had dropped 70% year-on-year, the company said.

On a like-for-like basis -- for sites when open, excluding periods of closure -- trading was down 30%.

Mitchells & Butlers said none of its sites had been open since the government announced fresh lockdown measures on 30 December.

The company had a cash balance of £113 million at 16 January with all facilities drawn.

Monthly pension contributions from January to March, inclusive, would be delayed, with these becoming due in April.

'M&B was a high performing business coming into the pandemic and with the support of our main stakeholders, including the equity injection from this open offer, we have every confidence that we can emerge in a strong competitive position once current restrictions are lifted,' chief executive Phil Urban said.

'The hospitality industry has done everything that has been asked of it to date and, now that the vaccines are being rolled out and infections are dropping, we are hopeful that pubs and restaurants will soon be allowed to reopen safely so that we can start to serve our customers again.'

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