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Wetherspoon's reports 10% rise in like-for-like sales

JD Wetherspoon's has reported like-for-like sales 10.1% higher than the same period a year ago for the 25 weeks to 21 January 2024.

The chain's latest financial results show that bar sales rose by 11.8%, food by 7.9% and slot/fruit machines by 10.4%. Meanwhile, room sales increased by 3.1%.

Furthermore, like-for-like sales in the last 12 weeks were 11.1% higher than the same period a year ago, with total sales growing by 8.4% in the year to date.

The Coffer CGA Business Tracker reported that in December the industry's like-for-like sales increased by an average of 8.8%. This compares to 15.2% for Wetherspoon during that period, meaning that it has now outperformed the tracker for 16 consecutive months.

The company currently has a trading estate of 814 pubs, opening two sites in the year to date, at London's Heathrow airport and at London Euston railway station.

During the reporting period, five pubs were sold and eight leasehold pubs have either been surrendered to the landlord or sublet. The disposals and surrenders resulted in a cash inflow of £3.8m.

Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: 'Wetherspoon, like the hospitality industry, has seen a consistent but slow recovery, following the pandemic.'

Comparing the pub trade to retail, he noted that pub labour costs are about 30% of sales, as against around 10% for supermarkets, adding: '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.'

Looking ahead, he predicted: 'Notwithstanding these issues, Wetherspoon currently expects an outcome for the financial year in line with market expectations.'

Photo: Shutterstock/Matthew Stone