Wetherspoons warns on April pub slowdown

 
Oliver Smith
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JD WETHERSPOON yesterday warned that slowing sales in April had left it cautious concerning its final quarter, despite reporting higher third-quarter sales.

The pub chain said that sales for the 13 weeks to 27 April at pubs open over a year rose 6.2 per cent, although April had missed its own expectations.

“As a result of the slowdown in sales growth in recent weeks and our strong performance in the final quarter of last year, combined with the slightly unpredictable impact of the World Cup, the company retains an element of caution about the exact outcome for the final quarter, but anticipate a reasonable outcome for the year as a whole,” Wetherspoons said.

Total sales, which includes the impact of new pubs, rose 10.9 per cent during its third quarter.

Wetherspoons said its third-quarter operating margin slipped to eight per cent from 8.2 per cent in the first half, reflecting investment in IT, staff and training, and guided between eight and 8.3 per cent for the year, down from 8.7 per cent during 2012 to 2013.

Wetherspoons is opening 45 new pubs this financial year, including its first in Ireland, and said it intended to open 30-40 during the next financial year.

Wetherspoons’ shares slipped 2.35 per cent yesterday to 832p per share.

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