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Wetherspoon tops 100-pub barrier

The fall-out from the Government's Beer Orders continues to reap rich rewards for JD Wetherspoon, the South-east-based pub retailer.

With the big brewers constrained in their pub expansion by the legislation, Wetherspoon's estate rocketed through the 100 barrier in the six months to January. That helped the group rack up an 81 per cent profits advance to £4.76m.

Announcing the figures yesterday, Tim Martin, chairman, indicated that the group was poised for further expansion. It has tied up new five-year beer supply agreements with its two largest suppliers and has agreed an additional term loan facility of £50m to finance more pubs

But management upheavals continue, with the announcement yesterday of the departure of Martin Scott, finance director, just four months after that of Christina McLellan, legal director and company secretary.

Fully-diluted earnings per share advanced from 8.2p to 12.4p, out of which Wetherspoon is paying an interim dividend raised a quarter to 2.75p.

After a strong performance of late, the shares sank 6p to 498p. Jeremy Allan at Kleinwort Benson Securities has lifted his profits forecast for the current year from £9.5m to £10.8m.