Profits fall at Wetherspoon as chairman calls for UK to quit EU

Pre-tax profits at Wetherspoon fell nearly four per cent and the pub chain's chairman has called for Britain to leave the European Union.

JD Wetherspoon at Leeds City Station.

Wetherspoon reported a rise in revenue of 6.2 per cent in the 26 weeks ended January 24 from £744.4m. It also saw a rise in like-for-like sales of 2.9 per cent.

However, opertaing profit before exceptional items was 10.8 per cent from £55.4m to £49.4m.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Tim Martin, chairman of J D Wetherspoon plc, said: “As previously highlighted, the biggest danger to the pub industry is the continuing tax disparity between supermarkets and pubs.

“There is a growing realisation among politicians, the media and the public that pubs are overtaxed and that a level tax playing field will create more jobs and taxes for the country.”

Mr Martin has written an article calling on Britain to leave the EU.

He said: “A wide debate is taking place as to whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union. I have written an article on the subject, favouring withdrawal from the Union, since returning power to the national parliament will increase the level of democracy and accountability.”

Mr Martin added that sales comparisons in the second half of the year would be more favourable although wage increases, with the National Living Wage due to be introduced in April, could hit the chain and the wider sector.

Under the National Living Wage all workers aged 25 and over are legally entitled to at least £7.20 per hour.

Wetherspoon claims its wage bill makes up around 25 per cent, or 75p, of every pint sold in its pubs

The chairman of Wetherspoon said: “In the six weeks to 6 March 2016, like-for-like sales increased by 3.7 per cent, with total sales increasing by 5.7 per cent.

“Sales comparisons in the second half of the financial year will be slightly more favourable, although further wage increases are due in April. As a number of pub companies have indicated, the pub and restaurant market is highly competitive, but we are aiming for a reasonable outcome for the financial year, before the impact of the £3.8m property gain referred to today.”

Last year Wetherspoon suffered a data breach after some customer and staff information was accessed illegally by a third party from its old website.