Wetherspoons Report Like-For Like Sales Up 9.5%

JD Wetherspoon has reported like-for-like sales for the 14 weeks to 5 November 2023 were up 9.5% compared with the previous year. Bar sales increased by 10.7%, food by 8.2% and slot/fruit machines by 10.0%. Hotel room sales increased by 6.2%. Total sales have grown by 8.1% in the year to date.

In September, the latest month for which information is available, the Coffer CGA Business Tracker reported industry like-for-like sales up 5.9% compared with 9.4% for Wetherspoon. Wetherspoon said it has outperformed the tracker for 13 consecutive months.

The company stated: “In October 2023, Which? reported that a survey of 4,611 of its members and the public had rated Wetherspoon hotels fourth highest of all large UK hotel chains (more than 31 hotels) for value. Wetherspoon achieved an overall customer score of 73%, which was higher than Sofitel, Hilton, Marriott, Radisson Blu and many others. On 22 August 2023, the company disposed of all interest rate swaps in place, receiving £14.8m. At the same time, the company fixed interest rates in respect of £200m of borrowings from 23 August 2023 to 6 February 2025 at a rate of 5.665%. On 25 September 2023, the company fixed interest rates in respect of £400m of borrowings from 6 February 2025 to 6 February 2028 at a rate of 4.225%. Interest costs for FY24, excluding IFRS 16 notional interest, are expected to be approximately the same as they were in FY23 (£51m), following the transactions noted above. The company has opened one pub at London’s Heathrow airport during the period. Four pubs have been sold and six leasehold pubs have been surrendered to the landlord. The company currently has a trading estate of 816 pubs.”

Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “Sales in the first 14 weeks of the financial year have continued the pattern of gradual improvement which has followed the ending of lockdowns and restrictions. Inflationary pressures have eased, but energy costs, in particular, remain at far higher levels than pre-pandemic, putting pressure on suppliers and the wider economy. The company is increasing investment in existing pubs in the current financial year to approximately £70m (FY23: £46.9m). Areas of investment include new staff rooms, changing rooms, glass racks above bars (to cater for increased usage of brewers’ ‘branded’ glasses) and air conditioning. The company currently expects an outcome for the financial year in line with market expectations, and will provide further updates as the year progresses.”