Thursday 19 April 2018

JD Wetherspoon warns on sales despite rise in profits

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

Ellie Donnelly

Pub giant JD Weatherspoon has warned that it expects its growth in like-for-like sales to be lower in the next six months as it anticipates higher costs in wages, taxes, and utilities.

The news comes as the company reported a 20.6pc rise in profit before tax to £62m for the first half of its financial year.

Operating profit at the company, whose Irish portfolio includes the Forty Foot in Dún Laoghaire, was £74m, a 13.6pc increase on the same period last year, according to the group’s preliminary results for the 26 weeks to 28 January.

Meanwhile earnings per share at the low-priced bar and restaurant - founded in 1979 by chairman Tim Martin - were 45.7p, an increase of 35.2pc on the same period in the previous year.

Tim Martin, chairman of the group, used the results announcement to describe reports that food prices in the UK will rise if the UK leaves the EU without a deal as “fallacy”.

"Trade organisations like the CBI and the BRC, supported by the FT, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the chairmen of Whitbread and Sainsbury’s and others, have misled the public by saying that food prices will automatically rise if we leave the EU without a deal," Mr Martin said.

"This is fallacy."

In the six weeks to 11 March (not covered by today’s results), like-for-like sales at the group increased by 3.8pc, and total sales have increased by 2.6pc.

Despite the expectation of higher costs in the second half of the year, the company said that as a result of slightly better-than-expected year-to-date sales, it anticipates an unchanged trading outcome for the current financial year.

Earlier this year the founder of drinks brand Innocent, Richard Reed, accused Mr Martin of selling out the British economy for "cheap Chardonnay".

In an interview with the Press Association, Mr Reed said that Mr Martin had helped to "junk" the UK economy.

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