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Wetherspoons reveals sales rise but sells off more pubs

Pub giant JD Wetherspoon has said sales grew over the past 10 weeks (Victoria Jones/PA)
Pub giant JD Wetherspoon has said sales grew over the past 10 weeks (Victoria Jones/PA)

Pub firm JD Wetherspoon has revealed another improvement in sales in recent weeks as it continued to sell off sites.

The pub giant reported that life-for-like sales increased by 5.8% in the 10 weeks to July 7, despite unseasonably wet weather.

Like-for-like sales increased by 7.7% over the year-to-date.

Sir Tim Martin, chairman of the pub firm, said its total sales are at “record levels” despite having fewer venues than it did a year ago.

Tim Martin announces Wetherspoon results
Founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon, Sir Tim Martin, said sales were at record levels (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

In the year-to-date, Wetherspoons has opened two pubs but sold or surrendered the lease on 26 pubs.

It added that a further 10 trading pubs are either on the market or under offer.

The group, which currently has an estate of 801 pubs, said it has largely disposed of venues which are “smaller and older”, or where it has another site in close proximity.

At its peak, the pub firm had around 950 venues in 2015. Earlier this year, the company said it still hoped to meet long-term ambitions of growing to 1,000 venues despite shrinking the size of its estate.

The group highlighted that it has new openings in Waterloo and Fulham Broadway stations in London, and in Marlow in Buckinghamshire planned for the coming months.

The company has disposed of some venues amid efforts to reduce its debt burden.

On Wednesday, Wetherspoons said it expects its net debt to stand at around £670 million at the end of the financial year.

In the update, Sir Tim also renewed his calls for the Government to equalise the tax paid on drinks between his pubs and supermarkets.

“The average Wetherspoon pub has generated taxes of one sort or another of £7 million in the last 10 years, as well as generating considerable employment and social benefits,” he said.

“The last government failed to implement tax equality between pubs and supermarkets, leading to pub closures and underinvestment.

“Wetherspoon hopes that the current Chancellor, with a Bank of England pedigree, will understand how many beans make five, and rectify this inequality.”