Thursday 22 March 2018

'Almost no action needed, for most companies, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal' - Wetherspoon boss

Wetherspoon founder and Brexit supporter Tim Martin
Wetherspoon founder and Brexit supporter Tim Martin

Kalyeena Makortoff

JD Wetherspoon has reported a 6pc jump in like-for-like sales for the 12 weeks to January 21, while total sales grew by 4.3pc.

Those figures were the same for the 25 weeks to January 21, with like-for-like and total sales up 6pc and 4.3pc, respectively.

The pub group said the better-than-expected sales growth meant financial year-to-date pre-tax profits were "slightly ahead" of forecasts.

However, it warned that it was unlikely to keep up the pace.

"Similar outperformance in the second half will be more difficult to achieve," the group said.

As part of its update, JD Wetherspoon said it had opened three new pubs but sold off 10, with plans under way to open approximately 10 pubs by the end of the financial year.

The pub group assured that it "remains in a sound financial position," though year-end net debt is expected to be around £30m (€34m) higher than it was at the end of the last financial year.

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin used the latest trading update to launch fresh criticism against two trade bodies - the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) - over their assertion that food prices will likely rise in the wake of Brexit.

"By refusing to acknowledge the fact that food prices will be reduced, post Brexit, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal and Parliament votes to eliminate taxes which are currently imposed on non-EU food imports, the CBI and the BRC are trying to fool the public and MPs and bringing business into disrepute," Mr Martin said.

"These factually incorrect scare stories seem to be designed to convince the public that a deal is necessary to avoid a 'cliff edge'.

"In fact, the cliff edge is a myth. There is almost no action needed, for most companies, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

"Provided that Parliament takes sensible steps, such as the elimination of food taxes, the public will benefit from lower food prices, from regained fishing rights and from savings of about £200m per week of EU contributions."

Press Association

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