The Business On... Tim Martin, Chairman, JD Wetherspoon

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The man with the mullet?

That's him. A barman in one of JD Wetherspoon's pubs once told Mr Martin's sister (he didn't know who she was) that his boss looked like Noddy Holder. He concedes it's true.

But he's smarter than he looks?

Absolutely. Mr Martin founded Wetherspoons more than 30 years ago with a single pub and has built it into an 800-strong chain. It seems to perform in good times and bad: yesterday the company revealed another increase in sales over the past three months, despite the squeeze on household budgets.

Goodness, he must be pleased?

Yes, though he's nervous about the next year, warning yesterday that prices will have to increase by as much as 7 per cent, such are the costs that pubs are currently under. On the plus side, Mr Martin says hisoft-repeated complaints about the regulatory and tax pressures the pubs' business faces do now seem to be being heard in Government.

Has he been making a fuss then?

Well, let's put it this way: Mr Martin is not afraid to express his opinions. We'll have to see what he says about the eurozone crisis next – he's a leading eurosceptic, so one imagines the current woes will be looming large in conversations over a pint.

What's his tipple of choice?

It always used to be Greene King's Abbott Ale, but he recently told an interviewer he'd been so upset by an article written by the brewer's chairman on the pubs' responsibility for binge drinking that he'd switched to Leffe Blond and Doom Bar.

And now he can get them all day?

Actually, the 7am opening time introduced at all Wetherspoons pubs last year was an attempt to capture the breakfast market. It's been a success – sales of coffees and cooked breakfasts continue to rise.

What's with the daft name?

Mr Martin moved schools almostcontinuously as a child and lived in New Zealand for a period. There he came across a teacher called Mr Wetherspoon who seemed utterly unable to control his classes. The name has stayed with him.