JD Wetherspoon has reported like-for-like sales increased 4.7% for the 12 weeks to 19 January 2019, with total sales up 4.2%. In the year to date, for the 25 weeks to 19 January 2020, like-for-like sales rose 5.0% and total sales 4.9%.
The company stated: “Since the start of the financial year, the company has opened one pub and sold five and intends to open a further ten to 15. It is expected about £80m will be spent this year on new pubs and pub extensions. The company has spent £57m in the year to date buying the freehold reversions of 18 pubs of which it was previously the tenant.
Tim Martin said : The Company remains in a sound financial position. Net debt (pre IFRS16) at the end of this financial year is currently expected to be between £780m and £820m, slightly higher than previously anticipated, due to higher than anticipated capital expenditure. Expenditure on reversions and buybacks, referred to above, approximately equals company debt – if the company had not bought shares or reversions it would be more or less debt-free, having financed dividends, the repayment of 2003 borrowings of approximately £300m and the opening of a net 239 pubs, from free cash flow.”
Commenting on Brexit, Martin said: “The CBI’s warnings about job losses and recession in the event of a leave vote in 2016 have proved to be mythical – over a million jobs have been created. The FDF’s warnings about food price rises are absurd – the EU is a highly protectionist organisation which imposes tariffs and quotas on about 13,000 non-EU imports including many food and drink products such as bananas, rice, oranges, coffee and wine.
“Elimination of tariffs will obviously reduce prices. It is high time these organisations took a wise-up pill and supported the democratic decisions of the UK.” On the company’s outlook, Martin said: “We continue to anticipate a trading outcome for this financial year in line with our previous expectations.”