JD Wetherspoon posts £30.4m loss following slow pandemic recovery

07 October 2022 by
JD Wetherspoon posts £30.4m loss following slow pandemic recovery

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has reported a pre-tax loss of £30.4m in the 53 weeks to 31 July 2022.

Chairman Tim Martin said pubs faced a "momentous challenge" to attract back customers who had "filled their fridges" with cheaper supermarket beer during lockdown.

He said recovery from the pandemic had been "painstakingly slow" alongside a "great inflation" of costs.

Like-for-like sales during the period were down 4.7% but have risen 10.1% in the nine weeks to 2 October. The company reported a £102.5m pre-tax profit in 2019.

The chain, which operates around 800 pubs in the UK and Ireland, previously said losses would be higher than expected this year after raising staff wages and investing in site repairs.

Martin said predictions on the future of the company were hard to make but that he was "cautiously optimistic" and warned the biggest threat to the hospitality industry was the possibility of further lockdowns and restrictions being imposed.

He added that the lower levels of tax paid by supermarkets was also a threat to the future of the pub sector.

Martin said: "The hospitality industry pays far higher levels of VAT and business rates than supermarkets. This competitive disadvantage has had an increasingly debilitating impact on the hospitality industry and will undoubtedly result in long-term financial weakness vis a vis supermarkets, which will also be harmful to employees, the Treasury and the overall economy."

During the 53-week period, Wetherspoon sold, closed or terminated the leases of 15 pubs, giving rise to a cash inflow of £5.9m.

The company recently put 32 pubs up for sale which are largely within a close radius to other Wetherspoon sites. It said this was part of a long-term strategy rather than a reaction to difficulties arising from the pandemic.

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