JD Wetherspoon bucks the trend with record sales

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Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has today announced its best ever annual results despite the economic downturn.

The group, which has more than 700 pubs across the UK, said takings rose 1.2% in the year to 26 July, with underlying pre-tax profits up 13.6% to £66.2 million.

The pub operator also reported sales of £955.1 million during the period - a record since the firm was incorporated in 1983.

According to the group, its pubs were kept busy by offering breakfast and other meals, as well as coffee and drinks sales. It boasts selling more than 715,000 breakfasts and coffees each week - “more than most coffee shop chains”.

Sales of real ale sales rose 17%.

The pub group’s chairman and founder, Tim Martin, said the group had also experienced a strong July.

“As in the recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s, the company has traded well by concentrating on the key ingredients of standards, service, staff training and incentives,” said Mr Martin.

“Coincidentally, there has been a huge increase in ‘off-trade’ sales of alcoholic drinks, combined with a decrease in sales volumes in pubs,” he added.

“We believe that the net effect of this has been to increase levels of ‘unsupervised’ drinking and directly contribute to many pubs’ closure, at the same time exacerbating the problem of ‘binge-drinking’.”

The Chairman concludes: “The cost outlook for the company is better than for some recent years, with a minimum wage increase of 1.2% due in October 2009 and food cost inflation at lower levels.”

The strong results come just a few weeks after the British Beer & Pub Association reported that 52 pubs called time every week in Britain in the first half of 2009 - a third more than the same period a year ago.

The Association’s research shows that local pubs are the most vulnerable with 40 a week closing during the period, while nine high street bars were closed every week.

However, not only has the recession hit the pub trade, so has the smoking ban and changes to the Licensing Act.

To combat the smoking ban, many Wetherspoon pubs offer outside sheltered areas which aim to keep smokers customers warm and dry by providing awnings, patio heaters and, in many cases, fireplaces have become permanent fixtures outside many establishments where space allows.

Tags: British Beer & Pub Association, buck the trend, food, , pubs, , ,


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