Smoking ban fails to dent JD Wetherspoon's profits

07 September 2007 by
Smoking ban fails to dent JD Wetherspoon's profits

JD Wetherspoon has delivered record results as the UK's smoking ban failed to dent profits, the pub operator said today.

The 671-strong chain, which plans to open 30 more pubs in the coming 12 months, said its focus on food in recent years had paid off with more than 30% of its sales now from meals compared with 17% a decade ago.

Including bar purchases made in association with table meals, diners now account for around two-thirds of the group's sales.

Wetherspoon, which has also pursued the breakfast market with early opening across the chain, claims it is now the number one seller of Lavazza coffee in the world by volume and that it shifts around 250,000 breakfasts each week.

Group turnover in the year to 29 July, which also saw double digit growth in real ales, increased 5% year-on-year to £888.5m (2006: £847.5m) as a result.

Like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of new openings, were up 5.6% and pre-tax profit increased 6% to £62m (2006: £58m).

Wetherspoon, which opened 18 new pubs in the year, said if the effect of an extra week's trading last year was ignored turnover was actually 7% ahead and pre-tax profit 6%.

Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoon, said: "I am pleased to report another year of good progress for the company."

Martin added the company remained cautious about like-for-like sales growth in the coming twelve months due to the uncertainty introduced by the smoking ban but had no doubt the new laws would be to the long-term benefit of the trade.

This week rival pub company Punch Taverns said the smoking ban had had little effect on trading and London brewer Fuller's said the same, suggesting this year's wet summer had been more damaging.

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By Chris Druce

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