Wetherspoons cheers rising sales despite rules and tax burden

The outspoken pub boss Tim Martin yesterday showed that it is possible to keep sales rising, even in the face of a tax and regulatory burden he regards as unfair.

The chairman of JD Wetherspoon, the cheap and cheerful nationwide chain, saw sales up 6.3 per cent in the 13 weeks to 28 April. Wetherspoons has opened another 16 pubs since the start of the year. It has ambitions for 1,600. Mr Martin said: "The biggest dangers to the pub industry are the VAT disparity between supermarkets and pubs and the imposition of stealth taxes such as the late-night levy and increased fruit/slot machine taxes. However, the company hopes that the recent abolition of the duty escalator and the reduction in beer duty indicates a greater appreciation of the important economic and social role pubs play."