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JD Wetherspoon to focus on food after announcing record results

12 September 2014 by
JD Wetherspoon to focus on food after announcing record results

Pub operator JD Wetherspoon is to continue to develop its food offer and expand its hotel operation after announcing record annual results.

The group is also planning to concentrate on its coffee offer, and said it would maintain what it called an "opportunistic" approach to expansion.

Chief executive John Hutson and financial director Kirk Davis today spoke of the group's current status and future plans, as they announced a 10% increase in revenue to £1.4b for the year to 27 July 2014, with like-for-like sales up 5.5%. Profit before tax and exceptional items rose by 3.1% to £79.4m.

Wetherspoon, which currently owns or manages over 900 sites across the UK, confirmed that it had spent £56m in reinvestment, hotel upgrades, toilet refurbishments and staff training in the past year.

The training elements particularly focused on the development of the Catering Academy, an in-house training scheme that allows kitchen managers to improve their skill level, command better pay, and reach the equivalent of a stage 1 environmental health qualification.

The group is also working to ensure its coffee quality is more consistent, and has seen good results so far with its urns of bottomless coffee available from morning until 2pm. Although the company was not aiming to create a "grab and go" offer, it confirmed that its staff will receive "barista-style" training, as the company sees coffee as an increasingly important part of an essential breakfast offer.

JD Wetherspoon is hoping to open between 30-40 new pubs in the next financial year.

Hutson said: "We will only expand if we are trading well on existing estates, and we are very fortunate that we are [financially] able to just consider the pubs that people put to us."

Its approach to its growing hotel business is similar, according to Hutson. Currently running to 32 sites, Wetherspoon Hotels has "no real target for the next year", but will expand where the opportunity is right.

Hutson also reiterated the company's stance on the 20% VAT tax rate for restaurants and bars, in support of the upcoming Tax Equality Day organised by campaign group VAT Jacques Borel, and said it would continue to push for a VAT reduction in a bid to show its belief that a decrease would benefit everyone.

Hutson said: "It has been a good year for business, and we are confident about the year ahead."

JD Wetherspoon reports record turnover and profit >>

JD Wetherspoon acquires second site in Republic of Ireland >>

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