Wetherspoon braced for scrap with supermarkets and chains

JD Wetherspoon pub

JD Wetherspoon yesterday revealed a 6% rise in total sales for the three months to April 26, but warned that increased competition from supermarkets and restaurant groups remains a threat to its business.

Analysts reacted positively to the quarterly growth, which equated to nearly 2% on a like-for-like basis.

The performance means that in the first three quarters of the year, sales have grown 4% on a like-for-like basis and 8% overall.

Wetherspoon has opened 20 new pubs and disposed of four since the start of the financial year. It currently has 12 pubs under development and, in line with its last update, intends to open around 30 pubs in the current financial year.

It said its present intention is to open a similar number of pubs in the following financial year.

The company stated: “Our expectations for this full financial year remain unchanged. For the next financial year, there are a number of factors which are likely to influence our trading performance, although they are difficult to quantify at this stage.

“Positive aspects include an increase in our pub numbers, stable utility prices and slightly lower interest rates. Other trends include increased competition from supermarkets and restaurant groups, together with additional staff and repair costs.”

One bone of contention for the chain remains the ‘Late Night Levy’, which combined with higher business rates per pint and a “huge” VAT disparity, means that pubs continue to trade at what it calls a “great disadvantage” to supermarkets.

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