JD Wetherspoon pub chain has raised £93.7m through a share placing to see it through the anticipated low sales period after reopening and facilitate new acquisitions.
The company said it is considering buying several properties in central London, the freehold reversions of pubs of which it is currently the tenant, and properties adjacent to successful pubs.
The company raised £137.7m through a share placing last April, however in its recent trading update, it reported a like-for-like sales decrease of 27.6% for the 15 weeks to 8 November 2020, impacted by the tier system, a 10pm curfew, the ‘order at table' requirement, and the mandatory use of face masks indoors.
All pubs have been closed since 31 December, from which point the company's sales have been zero. Redundancies total 378 roles at head office and airport sites, with the group reporting it now has 37,674 employees compared to 43,741 on 1 March 2020.
As at 14 January, the company had liquidity of £139.1m.
Tim Martin (pictured), chairman of Wetherspoon, said: "The Covid‐19 outbreak is having a severe impact on the UK pub sector. After a number of false starts, the hospitality industry generally anticipates a return to more normal trading patterns in the spring and summer, as a result of the introduction of a mass vaccination programme. The equity placing announced today will help the company, along with the other actions it has taken, to emerge from the pandemic in a strong position."