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Wetherspoons Chairman “Slams” Jamie Oliver’s Soft Drinks Tax

Jamie_Oliver_(cropped)JD Wetherspoon PLC Chairman Tim Martin has hit out at TV chef Jamie Oliver’s campaign for higher taxes on soft drinks, saying that if applied, would cost pubs millions.

Jamie Oliver earlier this week called on the UK government to introduce a tax on sugary drinks in a bid to combat the rising levels of childhood obesity, having already introduced a 10 pence tax on fizzy and sugary drinks in his own restaurants, the proceeds of which will be used to fund better education on healthy eating.

The Wetherspoons founder and chairman, however, said that the implementation of a tax on soft drinks would threaten the pub industry.

“A new tax on soft drinks will cost pubs millions at a time when prices in pubs are already very high compared to supermarkets,” Martin said.

“I believe that he should campaign for tax equality for pubs, restaurants and supermarkets, since pubs and restaurants pay 20% VAT on food sales, compared to zero for supermarkets,” he added.

According to Martin, Pepsi is now the company’s biggest selling draught product with 580,000 drinks served in the past seven days, of which 197,000 were Diet Pepsi. In the same period, it served almost one million coffees and teas, which were served sugar-free.

“Sales of non-sugar drinks in the non-alcoholic category are increasing at a rapid rate and are in the great majority, when you take into account coffee and tea. Customers already pay a lot for soft drinks when they go out and we don’t need another ‘big brother’ tax,” Martin said.

“Showboating of this kind by Jamie Oliver will close pubs,” he added.

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