Martin calls time on Wetherspoon role

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The Independent Online

Tim Martin, the mullet-haired founder of the pub chain J D Wetherspoon, yesterday put an end to speculation about his career plans by announcing he would give up his executive position to become part-time chairman.

The 48-year-old was executive chairman. He surprised many people in the City last September by taking a sabbatical "to spend some time travelling". Yesterday, he said he would become non-executive chairman from the beginning of April - when his sabbatical officially ends - working about two days a week.

John Hutson, the company's managing director, will take on the role of chief executive, although it is not clear when that will happen officially.

"I guess we've had a taste of what life will be like without Tim full-time over the last six months and I think he's had a feel for how the company can operate without him being full-time," Mr Hutson said.

The move came as J D Wetherspoon unveiled a 9 per cent rise in pre-tax profits, before accounting for exceptional items, to £27.8m for the six months to 25 January. Sales were £389m - up 11 per cent or 4.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Sales growth has slowed since then, however. Total sales in February were up eight per cent, with sales, on a like-for-like basis, up 3.9 per cent.

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