JD Wetherspoon reports 20% rise in profits

02 March 2007 by

UK pub operator JD Wetherspoon reported a 20% increase in pre-tax profit for the first half of its financial year driven by strong sales of coffees and breakfasts.

The company said profits were £32.9m for the six months to 28 January, compared with £27.4m last year.

The 662-pub chain said that food, including drinks bought with a meal, now made up about 50% of sales. It is selling about 450,000 coffees and 240,000 breakfasts each week.

Total sales in the period were up 8% to £438.4m.

However, the group is cautious about expectations for the second half.

Chairman Tim Martin said that after strong like-for-like sales until Christmas, sales growth slowed in January and February.

"In view of the increase in wages and utility costs, combined with slower sales growth, the company is cautious about the outcome in the second half," he said.

"The company is targeting like-for-like growth in the second half year of about 2-4%."

At the end of last year, Wetherspoon's said it is to open 30 new pubs and create 1,200 jobs in 2007.

The company plans to invest more than £35m developing the pubs across the UK, including new outlets in Sheffield, Bishop Auckland, St Austell, Hertford and Devizes.

Wetherspoon's also plans to invest another £25m on its existing pubs, with the creation of exterior smoking areas and the installation of super-chilled serving technology.

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By Kerstin Kühn

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