Tim Martin’s JD Wetherspoon blames ‘ferocious’ inflation for profits plummeting 91 per cent
The chief of JD Wetherspoon has said blamed “ferocious” inflationary pressures in the pub industry as the pub giant reveals a 90.9 per cent loss in profits for the 26 weeks to January.
As the cheap beer chain felt the hangover from Covid-19 and Brexit supply issues, pre-tax profits were down to £4.6m compared to a whopping £50.3m during pre-pandemic levels.
However, Tim Martin, the outspoken boss of the value pub, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about progress for the year ahead, as the chain posted a three per cent increase in revenues for the year up £916.0m compared to £889.6m in 2019.
The listed pub group, which has over 100 sites across London, saw like-for-like bar sales down by 0.8 per cent.
However, food sales increased by 12 per cent and slot/fruit machine sales increased by 44.3 per cent.
Commenting on the results, Martin said: “iInflationary pressures in the pub industry, as many companies have said, have been ferocious, particularly in respect of energy, food and labour.
“The Bank of England, and other authorities, believe that inflation is on the wane, which will certainly be of great benefit, if correct.”
It comes as a number of pub chains have struggled with soaring energy prices and a hike in supply costs, which has eaten into the sectors profits.
Martin continued: “Trade for the last seven weeks was 9.1 per cent above the equivalent period in FY19 and 14.9 per cent above the equivalent period in our last financial year (FY22).
“As reported last year, the company has a full complement of staff, although the labour market is competitive, with unemployment, in spite of economic problems, at approximately its lowest level in the last 50 or so years.”
Despite the dip in profits, investors still appear to remain confident in Martin’s pub group with shares soaring 11.83 per cent today.
Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Wetherspoon’s boss Tim Martin prides himself on running pubs that offer cheap and cheerful food and drink to punters who want value for money, meaning his empire of more than 800 pubs is well suited to the current cash-strapped economy.
“That positioning is working in today’s economic climate, posting sales above pre-pandemic levels, despite what Mr Martin called ‘ferocious’ inflation in the pub industry – meaning rising costs caused a plunge in profits before coronavirus changed the world.”