BARS and restaurant giant Mitchells & Butlers has unveiled plans for expansion in Scotland after growing annual profits amid challenging conditions in the eating out industry and concerns about the potential impact of Brexit.

The company, which has around 80 outlets in Scotland, wants to open more of its Miller &Carter steak restaurants in the country and is on the lookout for suitable sites.

Property firm Savills is advising Mitchells & Butlers on the expansion, which comes as businesses in the casual dining sector grapple with pressure on consumer spending and increases in costs.

The scale of the challenges were underlined in May when the Jamie’s Italian restaurant business fell into administration, with the loss of around 1,000 jobs.

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However, the Miller & Carter formula appears to be working in Scotland.

The operation has five outlets in the Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen areas. Savills director John Menzies said they are all trading well.

“The business is now seeking new opportunities to grow the brand further with particular interest in busy roadside locations,” he said.

Mitchells & Butlers will also look at opportunities in Scotland for its Ember Inns and Premium Country Pubs operations, which serve food.

Its other brands include All Bar One.

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Announcing its results for the 52 weeks to September 28, Mitchells & Butlers said: “The eating out industry continues to face challenges, including rising costs and supply which has, over recent years, outstripped demand.”

The Birmingham-based company added: “However, the industry as a whole remains in revenue growth; forecast to be 1.3 per cent in the year to September 2019. This suggests that, despite reported fragile consumer confidence, people ultimately still want to go out and treat themselves to social occasions.”

It said busy lifestyles had led consumers to fit social occasions into different parts of the day, with the fastest growth seen at breakfast time.

While the potential impact of Brexit remains unclear, Mitchells & Butlers said: “The specific areas of material impact for our business are likely to be increases in costs and the reduction of availability of goods, and implications of restrictions on the free movement of labour.”

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It added: “At a time when unemployment levels are at a 40-year low, any restriction on the free movement of labour would be expected to have a material impact on both the cost of labour and access to talent.”

Mitchells & Butlers grew sales by 3.5% on the like-for-like basis in the latest financial year. Total revenues increased to £2.23bn from £2.15bn. Underlying operating profits rose to £317m from £303m.

The group operates around 1,750 pubs, bars and restaurants in total.

Its chief executive Phil Urban used to run Scottish & Newcastle’s restaurants business.

In September a report by UHY Hacker Young accountants found the number of restaurant businesses going insolvent had jumped 25% in the last year, to 1,410.