Wetherspoons slams pub taxes as sales improve

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has used its pre-close statement to strongly criticise what it regards as an unfair tax regime:

The pub industry continues to pay far higher taxes than supermarkets do, mainly as a result of an unequal and unfair VAT and business rates burden. This tax inequality has greatly widened the pricing differential for beer and other products between the on and off trade.

Approximately 10,000 pubs have shut down in the last decade, about 15 per cent of the total, and these closures are certain to continue unless politicians and governments create a fair tax system.

The company made the comments while announcing like-for-like sales growth of 6.7 per cent and total sales growth of 10.6 per cent for the 12 weeks to 19 January .

The chain which has grown to over 880 establishments through its value-for-money focus has opened 18 new pubs so far this financial year including the UK's first motorway pub.

However, Wetherspoon said it expected operating margins for the half-year to 26 January to fall by 0.2 per cent to 8.1 per cent.

In November Wetherspoon said it would scale back new openings to 40 pubs this year from a target of 50 previously, and review its longer term plans for expansion over the coming months.

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