Wednesday 17 October 2018

'No one wants hard border, it would be sheer bloody mindlessness' - Wetherspoons boss

Wetherspoon founder and Brexit supporter Tim Martin
Wetherspoon founder and Brexit supporter Tim Martin
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

A return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be "sheer bloody mindlessness," according JD Wetherspoon chief executive and Brexit supporter Tim Martin.

With Mr Martin adding that "no one" wants a hard border.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Mr Martin, who spent ten of his first 18 years growing up in Northern Ireland, said that a key issue for the future of humanity is democracy, which he described as "the greatest force for freedom."

"What you have in the European Union is an ever closer union, which is becoming less democratic."

"Already in Republic of Ireland you have lost control of your interest rates, and have less control of your budget," he continued.

However Mr Martin admitted that he is in favour of a common market.

Mr Martin, whose Wetherspoons empire has expanded to over 900 pubs, including five in Ireland, said that Brexit has not had a negative impact on his business.

"We had record sales in the year following the vote, and household income [in the UK] is pretty well at a record," he said.

When asked about the performance of his pubs in Ireland – Wetherspoons has yet to reach an agreement with Diageo to supply Guinness in its Irish bars – Mr Martin said that the pubs have been performing "very well".

"We have had issues around distribution here, and have not always been met with open arms by suppliers in Ireland."

"It may take a lot longer to get Guinness into the pub here, I don’t think the Irish guys have a desire to have Guinness sold at a lower price in Wetherspoons."

And he went on to say that he is not in talks with Diageo at the moment.

"They are happy to supply us but not at the same price as we buy Guinness in the UK."

However, while admitting that it would be a plus to have Guinness for sale in his pubs in the Republic of Ireland, he said that the pubs seemed to be doing "very well" without it.

"We had a similar issue in Northern Ireland for years, when we did get Guinness in sales did pick up a bit but not much."

When asked about possible expansion plans in Ireland, Mr Martin said that now that the group had received the go-ahead for two new big pubs in Dublin, it was also looking at sites for two smaller pubs outside of the capital.

On the topic of social media – the group last week shutdown its social media accounts – Mr Martin said that it was easy to get distracted by social media, and that it was now a plus not to have the distraction.

"We realised social media was becoming very controversial, and addictive, especially for children."

However he admitted that the publicity over quitting social media was "much bigger" than the group had expected.

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