Pubs and Bars

JD Wetherspoon reports first loss since 1984

JD Wetherspoon has reported a £105.4m pre-tax loss in the year to 26 July as sales fell due to Covid-19 restrictions, the company’s first loss since 1984.

The pub chain said revenues plunged by 30.6% to £1.26bn as its pubs were adversely impacted by lockdown.

The pre-tax loss includes £60m of exceptional one-off costs, including £29m Covid-related costs for stock losses, staff costs and equipment.

JD Wetherspoon also said it was in consultation to reduce the number of workers at its head office by 108 and airport pubs by 450.

This follows recent staff reductions in the hospitality sector, including Marston’s, which announced it was axing 2150 jobs yesterday, and Greene King, which is set to close 79 of its pubs and restaurants.

Tim Martin, the chairman of JD Wetherspoon, said: “Risk cannot be eliminated completely in pubs, but sensible social-distancing and hygiene policies, combined with continued assistance and co-operation from the authorities, should minimise it.

“Like-for-like sales in the first 11 weeks have been 15.0% below those of last year, with strong sales in the first few weeks, followed by a marked slowdown since the introduction of a curfew and other regulations, some of which are referred to above.”

He added: “The recent curfew and introduction of table service only have been particularly damaging for trade, depressing sales for customers who find it too much ‘faff’, at the same time as substantially increasing costs.

“As a result of recent changes in regulations, the outlook for pubs over the remainder of the current financial year is even more unpredictable than hitherto.”

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