Peach Report

Wetherspoon reports tough start to 2012

9 March, 2012

JD Wetherspoon, Britain's biggest high street pub group, saw like-for-like sales fall 0.7% in the six weeks to 4 March. Chairman Tim Martin called it "disappointing". Total sales were buoyed by new openings and were up 6.1%.

Martin said the company was now slightly more cautious about the potenital outcome for the current financial year.

Wetherspoon had seen a 2.1% increase in like-for-likes for the first half of the year, the 26 weeks up to 22 January, with total sales up 8.4% to £569m. Operating profits were up 7.2% at 53m, with pre-tax profits ahead 11% at £36m.

Like-for-like bar sales were up 3.4%, with like-for-like food sales only 0.1% up.

"The outcome for the first half was reasonable," said Martin,"given the pressures on the UK consumer." The main challenges for the business continued to be cost pressures resulting from government legislation. The company, he said, paid taxes of £250m, 43.9% of sales.

Over the period it opened 20 new pubs and closed two, including an airport lease, however Martin warned the comnpany would now be reducing the number of openings for the year as a whole to around 40.