Wetherspoon Chairman Tim Martin this morning slammed the “unelected” EU chief as well as the supporting leaders of Germany and France. Martin, a leading figure in the Brexit campaign, hit out at EU leaders saying that they were determined to hurt the UK. He said: “Angela Merkel of Germany and François Hollande of France have supported the stance of the unelected EU ‘President’ Juncker in stating that the “UK must pay a price” for leaving the EU and that there “must be a threat” to the UK. According to press reports, Juncker told European business leaders, in October, not to negotiate with UK companies and to adopt an “intransigent” attitude. This suggested approach puts an unfair burden on the excellent European suppliers with which UK companies, like Wetherspoon, have traded for many decades. For example, Wetherspoon normally agrees on trade deals with suppliers for 3 to 10 years. If we, and companies like ours, are unable to agree on tariff-free transactions, it will inevitably result in a loss of business for European companies which have done nothing to deserve this outcome. Indeed, the ultimate sanction will be in the hands of UK consumers, should they take offence at the hectoring and bullying approach of Juncker and co. French wine, Champagne and spirits, German beer and Swedish cider, for example, are all at extreme risk.”
Tim Martin was speaking as JD Weatherspoon published a trading update for its first quarter of the financial year, which revealed that:
For the 13 weeks to 23 October 2016, like-for-like sales increased by 3.5% and total sales increased by 2.3%. The level of like-for-like sales reduced to 2.3% in the last 5 weeks
of the period.
The operating margin, excluding property gains, in the 13 weeks to 23 October 2016 was 8.6%, compared with 5.8% in the same 13 weeks last year. The margin was unusually high during the period and was unusually low for the same three months last year. The Company currently anticipates an operating margin of around 7% for the current financial year.
Martin added: “The Company’s sales growth has been strong in the last few months, but has slowed in recent weeks. The Company anticipates higher costs in the remainder of the current year, for instance in the areas of wages, business rates and repairs. The Company also intends to increase the level of capital investment in existing pubs from £34m in 2015/6 to around £60m in the current year.
“The Company has made a reasonable start in the current year, but any forecasts for the full year are inevitably tentative, with nine months still to go – and the outlook for the current financial year is unchanged. We will provide updates as we progress through the year.”