Pub giant JD Wetherspoon today reported a half-year pre-tax loss of £46.2m as Covid restrictions forced hundreds of its pubs to close through key holiday seasons.
Wetherspoon’s operating loss hit £20.7m, while revenue sunk by more than 53 per cent to £431.1m
Like-for-like sales were also down by almost 54 per cent for the six months ended 24 January 2021 as lockdowns heavily impacted pubs across the UK.
On St Patrick’s Day alone, pubs lost out on 14 million sales of pints, while £8.2bn in trade value was wiped out from the sector just in beer sales since the first round of lockdowns last year, the British Beer and Pub Association estimated this week.
Calls for ‘consistency’
Tim Martin, chairman of JD Whetherspoon, criticised the government’s ever-changing guidelines and warned that the future of the industry requires consistency.
“It is disappointing that so many regulations, implemented at tremendous cost to the nation, appear to have had no real basis in common sense or science – for example, curfews, “substantial meals” with drinks and masks for bathroom visits.
“The future of the industry, and of the UK economy, depends on a consistent set of sensible policies, and the ending of lockdowns and tier systems, which have created economic and social mayhem and colossal debts, with no apparent health benefits.”
JD Wetherspoon will open outdoor spaces in 394 pubs in April, but the pubs will be operating with a reduced menu and shorter days.
Wetherspoon’s decision is in line with coronavirus restrictions easing on 12 April to allow hospitality to open up outdoor space for customer use.
From Sunday to Thursday the pubs will be open from 9am until 9pm, and on Friday and Saturday the pubs will stay open until 10pm.