Pubs and Bars

Wetherspoon succumbs to ‘record’ £154m loss

Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon, said the results came in the face of lockdowns and ‘draconian restrictions’, which he labelled as the ‘biggest threat to the pub industry’

JD Wetherspoon has revealed it has succumbed to a record loss of £157m for the 52-week period ending 25 July 2021.

The loss comes after its revenues decreased by 38% to £772.6m after it saw its pubs closed for 19 weeks of the year.

Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon, said the results came in the face of lockdowns and “draconian restrictions”, which he labelled as the “biggest threat to the pub industry”.

He said: “Pubs have been at the forefront of business closures during the pandemic, at great cost to the industry – but at even greater cost to the Treasury.

“In spite of these obstacles, Wetherspoon is cautiously optimistic about the outcome for the financial year, on the basis that there is no further resort to lockdowns or onerous restrictions.”

He added: “The biggest threat to the pub industry, and also, inter alia, to restaurants, theatres, cinemas, airlines and travel companies, relates to the precedent set by the government for the use of lockdowns and draconian restrictions, imposed under emergency powers. 

“This threat, which is also a threat to civil society and democracy, has been regularly articulated by many commentators, including the former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption.”

Martin also revealed that like-for-like sales in the first nine weeks of the current financial year were 8.7% lower than the same weeks in August and September 2019, before the pandemic started. In the last four weeks of the period, like-for-like sales were minus 6.4%.

He also added that total employee numbers averaged 39,025 in the financial year, which increased to 42,003 for the week ending 20 September 2021.

He said: “On average, Wetherspoon has received a reasonable number of applications for vacancies, as indicated by the increase in employee numbers, but some areas of the country, especially ‘staycation’ areas in the West Country and elsewhere, have found it hard to attract staff.”

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