JD Wetherspoon Reports Record Sales As Costs Fall

JD Wetherspoon, has recorded an eightfold increase in profit in the first half of the year, according to interim results for the group published today (March 22).

Its total turnover rose by 8.2 per cent to £991million in the half-year period, with like-for-like sales jumping by almost 10 per cent thanks to rising food and drink orders, and have continued growing since then, up 5.8 per cent in the seven weeks to 17 March, while total revenues are a third higher on 2015 levels.

Commenting on the results, Tim Martin, the Chairman of J D Wetherspoon plc, said:

“Sales continue to improve. In the last 7 weeks, to 17 March 2024, like-for-like sales increased by 5.8%.

“The company continues to be concerned about the possibility of further lockdowns and about the efficacy of the government enquiry into the pandemic, which will not be concluded for several years.

“In contrast, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported on its findings in 2022.

“Professor Francois Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute, writing in The Guardian, and Professor Robert Dingwall, of Trent University, writing in the Telegraph, provide useful synopses of the WHO report:

“The conclusion of Professor Balloux, broadly echoed by Professor Dingwall, based on an analysis by the World Health Organisation of the pandemic, is that Sweden (which did not lock down), had a Covid-19 fatality rate “of about half the UK’s” and that “the worst performer, by some margin, is Peru, despite enforcing the harshest, longest lockdown.”

“Professor Balloux concludes that “the strength of mitigation measures does not seem to be a particularly strong indicator of excess deaths.”

“The company currently anticipates a reasonable outcome for the financial year, subject to our future sales performance.”

Robyn Duffy, senior analyst for consumer markets at RSM UK said: “It’s positive to see a strong set of interim results from JD Wetherspoon, particularly against the current operational backdrop for hospitality operators. Rents, rates, energy hikes and wage costs have pummelled margins in the sector, and where retailers have been able to pass on rising costs successfully to consumers, hospitality operators have struggled to do the same for fear of dampening trade further.

“With like for like sales up 9.9% year on year, Wetherspoons is outperforming the general pub sector which saw like for likes up 5.7% on average between August 23 and January 24*. Eating and drinking out is now a much more considered purchase for consumers due to the cost-of-living. However, with a keen focus on core values, namely ‘the best product at the best price’, Wetherspoons is appealing to cash-strapped customers on the hunt for value.

“Looking ahead, the operational landscape remains tough, and the sector is being increasingly challenged by mainstream supermarkets. Having a pint at home can cost as little as £1, whereas the average cost of a pint in the pub is now £4.50. Despite this, Wetherspoons has emerged strong from their Covid-induced lull and is trading well through a challenging economic backdrop. With positive signs on the horizon including inflation easing, interest rates set to fall from summer and real wages forecast to grow for the rest of 2024, Wetherspoons is well placed to perform strongly out of the downturn.”