Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has opened three pubs in the last financial year, while it sold or closed 28 pubs.
In a trading update this morning, the company hit back at media reports that the disposals were a "money-raising exercise", and said "almost all" the sales were "related to circumstances where there is another Wetherspoon pub nearby".
In addition to closing or selling off the 28 pubs, the high street pub chain, which currently operates 827 pubs, has a further 22 sites which are either on the market or are under offer.
The closures come amid rising sales for the chain. JD Wetherspoon said like-for-like sales in the first ten weeks of the final quarter of its financial year increased 11% on pre-pandemic levels. It also reported a 7.4% increase in year-to-date sales for the same period.
Compared to last financial year, like-for-like sales increased by 11.5% in the fourth quarter to-date, and by 12.9% year-to-date.
The closure and sale of the 28 pubs raised a net cash inflow of £6.5m.
JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: "The company expects profits in the current financial year to be in line with market expectations.
"As a result of a continued improvement in sales and a slightly reduced expectation for cost increases, for example energy costs, the company anticipates an improved outcome for the next financial year and anticipates an outcome for the first half of FY24 approximately in line with the second half of FY23."
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