Wetherspoon’s posts surge in sales but remains cautious for rest of year

Total sales rose 4.3 per cent in the period compared to 2.3 per cent growth a year ago

Justin George Varghese
Wednesday 08 November 2017 09:40 GMT
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Wetherspoon, which opened two new pubs since the start of the financial year and sold six, said on Wednesday that it intends to open between 10 and 15 pubs in the current financial year
Wetherspoon, which opened two new pubs since the start of the financial year and sold six, said on Wednesday that it intends to open between 10 and 15 pubs in the current financial year

Pub operator JD Wetherspoon said comparable sales growth nearly doubled in its first quarter from a year earlier, but it remained cautious on outlook for the current year, anticipating an outcome in line with expectations.

The owner and operator of more than 900 pubs in Britain and Ireland said like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to 29 October rose 6.1 per cent compared to growth of 3.5 per cent a year earlier.

The company said sales continued at a "slightly higher-than-expected level" since it last reported in September.

Total sales rose 4.3 per cent in the period compared to 2.3 per cent growth a year ago.

In September, Wetherspoon posted an increase of almost 28 per cent in annual pretax profit, saying that a typically wet British summer had boosted sales at the pub chain.

Its shares, up by more than 40 per cent this year, rose marginally after the latest results were announced.

The company is battling higher costs related to its purchases made in foreign currencies following the decline in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote in June 2016.

"Costs, as many pub and restaurant companies have indicated, have been significantly higher than last year, and further increases are expected in areas including labour, business rates, utilities and sugar taxes," chairman Tim Martin said.

Rival pub and restaurant groups including Mitchells & Butlers and Whitbread are battling similar issues.

Wetherspoon, which opened two new pubs since the start of the financial year and sold six, said on Wednesday that it intends to open between 10 and 15 pubs in the current financial year.

Rising inflation and muted wage growth following Britain's vote to leave the European Union last June is forcing many consumers to tighten their belts.

However, sales have held up at the pub chain with a helping hand from orders via its smartphone application -- which allows pub-goers to order from their table rather than going to the bar.

"Management remains cautious on the outlook. With the consumer environment remaining tough, we believe JD Wetherspoon is likely to continue seeing the benefits of trading down within the sector," said Karl Burns, an analyst with Investec.

Reuters

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