Celebrity binge-drinking bad for the pub trade, says Wetherspoon

It is hard to imagine any of the luminaries from the United Nations nipping into a Wetherspoon pub for a cheeky pint of York Guzzler, but the UK pub group yesterday showed itself a surprisingly kindred spirit with that most august of international bodies.

In the same week that the UN blamed the UK's celebrity cocaine culture for the increased popularity of the drug, the pub giant issued a similar indictment of the stars for their role in the spread of binge-drinking, and the antisocial behaviour that goes with it.

At the group's interim results, in which the company revealed a sharp drop in profits, its chairman Tim Martin said that "the poor behaviour by a number of celebrities" and the "huge press coverage" their antics generate have resulted in acceptance of such behaviour. That, he argued, was bad for business.

"Although it is often perceived that pubs benefit from these sorts of occasions, it is our experience that they are often bad for the pub trade, since they are difficult for pub staff to deal with and can be intimidating for the majority of customers," he said. "This sort of behaviour is not a new phenomenon, and is frequently replicated by the general public during birthday parties, stag and hen parties and so on."

Cynics might have interpreted Mr Martin's attack on the cult of celebrity as a smokescreen for some very disappointing figures. The company, which operates 688 pubs in the UK, told investors yesterday that pre-tax profits dropped by 13 per cent to £28.5m on turnover that stayed flat at £440.2m for the first six months of the financial year.

Mr Martin called on the Government to help, suggesting that it launch a public campaign to spread the message that "pubs and drinking are legitimate activities" and to impose harsher rules on bad behaviour.

The company has been hit hard by the smoking ban, which has led to fewer customers coming to the pubs to drink. Food sales, however, continued to grow, up 9 per cent, as more families and non-drinkers chose to go to its bars and pubs for their meals. Mr Martin said that bar sales would recover, though he was unsure when that would happen.

Wetherspoon shares traded down heavily on the news, losing 16.6 per cent to close at 260p on the day. Yesterday's trading meant that the company has now lost more than 60 per cent of its value in the past year amid worries about the effect of the smoking ban on the industry. The model that had helped put pub stocks into vogue in recent years – that of splitting them into separate property and operating companies – which analysts predicted would unlock huge value in these stocks, has now been largely discredited, dragging down the shares still further.

The company warned that the rest of the year would be difficult, with second-half sales "broadly similar" to the first half, which were down 2 per cent like-for-like. Additional "cost pressures", including the rising cost of food, meant that the group had a "slightly more cautious outlook for the second half of this financial year".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower