JD Wetherspoon has confirmed it intends to open approximately 15 pubs between now and the end of its current financial year in July 2016.
The company will ramp up its investment in new sites after first quarter figures published this week revealed the firm has opened three new pubs since the summer and sold one.
Following a review of its pubs, the company has offered 20 leasehold pubs for sale and is now considering a small number of freehold disposals in the course of the financial year.
For the 13 weeks to the end of October, like-for-like sales increased by 2.4% and total sales increased by 6.1%, boosted by the Rugby World Cup.
JD Wetherspoon’s operating margin during Q1 was 6.2%, compared with 7.7% in the same period last year. The lower margin was due to increases in the starting rates for hourly paid staff in October 2014 and August 2015, which totalled around 13%.
Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherpsooon, said: “As we indicated in September, it is difficult to quantify exactly the factors which will influence our trading performance in the early stages of a financial year. Increased labour costs are clearly an important factor for all pub and restaurant companies and may result in our annual products being slightly lower than the last financial year.”