JD Wetherspoon feels smoking ban pinch

07 March 2008 by
JD Wetherspoon feels smoking ban pinch

Profits at high-street pub chain JD Wetherspoon have dive-bombed in the past six months due to the smoking ban.

JD Wetherspoon saw its average sales per pub, per week, fall for the first time in a decade from £30,700 to £29,000.

Pre-tax profit in the six months to 27 January plunged by 13% year-on-year to £28.5m, with turnover almost flat, up 0.4% to £440.2m.

Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said that the smoking ban, which was introduced in the England on 1 July, had put traditional bar sales "under pressure" and the company was looking to diversify to mitigate further losses.

Hutson said the operator was planning to evolve the business in three ways to temper declining bar sales in the "non-smoking world".

"First we want to improve the range and quality of products we are selling to our customers. Second we want to develop niche parts of the business like coffee, breakfast, wines and cask ales," he said.

"Third, and most importantly, we want to improve the quality and the standards of our service in pubs."

Hutson reiterated his belief that the now UK-wide smoking ban would be advantageous for the licensed trade in the long term, with Wetherspoon already seeing new customers coming through its doors off the back of its developing food business.

The company also claims to now be the biggest seller of Pimm's in the world and serves up 350,000 breakfasts per week.

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By Christopher Walton

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