JD Wetherspoon sees LFL sales rise of 6.3%

JD Wetherspoon has posted results for the 26 weeks ended 27 January 2019, showing like-for-like sales increased by 6.3%, with total sales increasing by 7.1% to £889.6m (2018: £830.4m).

Like-for-like bar sales increased by 5.9% (2018: 5.7%), food by 7.1% (2018: 6.9%) and fruit/slot machines by 5.7% (2018: 4.6%). Like-for-like hotel room sales increased by 0.3% (2018: 3.1%). Bar sales were 60.5% of total sales, food 35.9%, fruit/slot machines 2.5% and rooms 1.1%.

Operating profit decreased by 14.2% to £63.5m (2018: £74.0m). The operating margin was 7.1% (2018: 8.9%). Profit before tax and exceptional items decreased by 18.9% to £50.3m (2018: £62.0m). Lower profit in the period was due to cost increases in areas including labour (+£33.0m), repairs (+£3.7m), utilities (+£2.5m), interest (+£3.3m) and depreciation (+£2.4m).

The group spent £55.7m on freehold site revamps where Wetherspoon was the tenant (2018: £7.5m), £24.9m on existing pubs (2018: £35.1m) and £14.8m on new pub openings and extensions (2018: £18.8m).

During the period, the firm opened two new pubs and closed six, bringing the number open at the period end to 879. Following a review of the estate, in recent years, it placed around 100 pubs on the market, most of which have now been sold.

For the company's outlook, chairman Tim Martin said, 'In the six weeks to 10 March 2019, like-for-like sales increased by 9.6%, helped by excellent weather this year and snow last year, and total sales increased by 10.9%.

'As previously indicated, costs in the second half of the year will be higher than those of the same period last year. The company anticipates an unchanged trading outcome for the current financial year.'