Tim Martin slams government's Brexit approach as Wetherspoon sales rise

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Wetherspoon's Opens The First Motorway Pub On The M40
The group recorded strong sales growth (Source: Getty)

Tim Martin had reason to celebrate today as Wetherspoon's sales increased in the 10 weeks to the start of July.

But the outspoken pub chain founder said the prime minister was making a mistake by trying to get a deal.

"99 per cent of the benefits of leaving the EU, including the avoidance of vast financial contributions, the elimination of tariffs and the reacquisition of fishing rights, need no agreement from any third party," he said. "The prime minister can avoid most current problems by prioritising these areas."

Shares in Wetherspoon were up 2.5 per cent in early trading.

The figures

Like-for-like sales in the 10 weeks to 8 July increased by 5.2 per cent.

In the year to date, comparable growth averaged 5.2 per cent.

Why it's interesting

Wetherspoon's typically suffers from the World Cup as it does not show the games in all its pubs, but the impact of the tournament was not mentioned in the trading update and sales still look to be on an upward trend.

Although Wetherspoon's has been recording market-beating growth in the past couple of years, it has not been immune to the cost headwinds affecting other hospitality operators.

The group said an exceptional £9m cost will be booked this year as it exits pubs which are below the value of the balance sheet. Business rates, sugar tax, utilities and wages will also add extra costs.

But founder Tim Martin remained confident of meeting expectations, and promised more initiatives in preparation for Brexit following the group's decision to replace French champagne with English wine.

However the Brexit advoacate slammed the government's approach to negotiations

"Unsurprisingly, the prime minister has run into difficulties by making the mistake of prioritising a "deal" with the unelected EU representatives, which they have little incentive to accommodate, rather than a sensible implementation of Brexit in areas under the control of parliament," he said.

What Wetherspoon's said

Martin said: "We are frequently asked about the effect of Brexit on the Company and the economy. The main advantage of Brexit is that the EU is a protectionist system that imposes high tariffs on non-EU imports such as wine, rice, coffee, oranges, children's shoes and clothes, and over 12,000 other products.

"Leaving the EU allows the UK to adopt the approach of countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Australia by dismantling these tariff walls, which improves general living standards."

Read more: Number 10 Downing Street is no place for a Brexit betrayer

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