Wetherspoons has revealed that like-for-like sales were 10.1% higher during the 25 weeks to 21 January compared with last year.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe pub chain attributed its performance to bar sales rising by 11.8%, food by 7.9%, and slot and fruit machines by 10.4%. Hotel rooms in its pub estate also saw a rise of 3.1% during the period.\u00a0\u00a0\r\n\r\nLike-for-like sales in the last 12 weeks were also 11.1% higher than the same period a year ago, while total sales have grown by 8.4% in the year to date.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAccording to the group, its interest costs for FY24, which excludes IFRS 16 notional interest, are expected to be approximately the same as they were last year at \u00a351m.\r\n\r\nDebt levels at the end of FY24 are also expected to be broadly in line with the level reported at the end of FY23 at \u00a3642m.\r\n\r\nThe company has opened two pubs in the year to date, at London's Heathrow airport and at London Euston railway station.\r\n\r\nHowever, five pubs have been sold and eight leasehold pubs have either been surrendered to the landlord or sublet. The disposals and surrenders resulted in a cash inflow of \u00a33.8m.\r\n\r\nThe company currently has a trading estate of 814 pubs.\r\n\r\nTim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoons, said: "Wetherspoon, like the hospitality industry, has seen a consistent but slow recovery, following the pandemic. Although inflation is, in general, reducing, labour and energy costs are far higher than pre-pandemic.\r\n\r\n"The inevitable consequence is that increased labour costs raise the differential in prices between the hospitality industry and supermarkets. At the same time, pubs pay far higher VAT and business rates than supermarkets, further exacerbating the price disparity.\u201d\r\n\r\nHe added: "Notwithstanding these issues, Wetherspoon currently expects an outcome for the financial year in line with market expectations, and will provide further updates as the year progresses."