Business World

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Wetherspoon blames timing of bank holiday for hitting sales

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

Ellie Donnelly

UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon has said that the timing of the May bank holiday this year is likely to have reduced like-for-like sales by 0.5pc in its third quarter.

Last year, the third quarter included the early May bank holiday, however the third quarter this year did not.

In a trading update this morning the group, which recently announced plans to create 300 jobs at a new pub and hotel development on Dublin’s Camden street, said that like-for-like sales increased by 3.5pc in the 13 weeks to 29 April 2018.

Year-to-date like-for-like sales at the group have increased by 5.2pc, while total year-to-date sales have increased by 3.8pc.

Since the start of the year the company has opened five new pubs and sold 19, and the company expects to open one further pub in its current financial year.

Net debt at the end of the quarter was £754m, which the group expects to be around £740m at the end of its financial year.

A vocal support of Brexit, Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoon, used the update to say that he feels sure that the UK should leave the customs union post Brexit.

"This will enable parliament to eliminate taxes on non-EU food and drink imports, reducing prices in the shops, which will immediately improve living standards," Mr Martin said.

Looking forward and Mr Martin said that the company continued to face "significant" cost increases in the second half of the year across a number of areas including labour, business rates, and the sugar tax in the UK.

While he said that there is also some uncertainty as to the effect on sales of the FIFA World Cup.

"We continue to anticipate a trading outcome for this financial year in line with our previous expectations."

Today the Wetherspoons empire has expanded to over 900 pubs, including five in Ireland.

Last month Mr Martin told Newstalk that a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be "sheer bloody mindlessness."

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