JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin warned this morning that its suppliers have most to fear from Brexit negotiations as he once again used the company’s latest financial update to outline his views on the EU.
Mr Martin, a staunch Leave campaigner, said that the current “posturing and threats” from EU negotiators would inevitably drive importers like JDW to look elsewhere for suppliers.
He said that in his view the main risk from the current Brexit negotiations was not to Wetherspoon, but to its EU suppliers – and to EU economies.
“In the current negotiations, democratically-elected politicians from the UK are dealing with unelected oligarchs from the EU. Since the oligarchs are not subject to judgement at the ballot box, their approach is dictated by more sectarian factors – the interests and ideology of EU apparatchiks like them, rather than residents or businesses from EU countries.
“As a result of their current posturing and threats, EU negotiators are inevitably encouraging importers like Wetherspoon to look elsewhere for supplies. This process is unlikely to have adverse effects on the UK economy, as companies will be able to switch to suppliers representing the 93% of the world’s population which is not in the EU, but this evolution will eventually be highly damaging to the economy of the EU.”
Mr Martin said that Wetherspoon was “extremely confident” that it could switch from EU suppliers, if required, although he admitted it would be “very reluctant” to initiate such actions.
“It is my view that Juncker, Barnier, Selmayr, Verhofstadt and others need to take a wise-up pill in order to avoid causing further economic damage to struggling economies like Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy – where youth unemployment, in particular, is at epidemic levels,” he blasted.
JDW today posted full-year results that showed revenues increased 4% to £1.6 billion, while operating profit rose 17% to £128m.
Investors were buoyed by news that since the start of the new financial year, which began on July 31, Wetherspoon’s like-for-like sales have increased by 6.1%.
However, Mr Martin urged caution: “This is a positive start, but is for a few weeks only – and is very unlikely to continue for the rest of the year. Comparisons will become more stretching – and sales, which were very strong in the summer holidays, are likely to return to more modest levels. It is anticipated that like-for-like sales of around 3-4% will be required in order to match last year’s profit before tax.”