JD Wetherspoon Posts Higher Profit As Pub Patrons Defy Brexit Gloom
Britain's JD Wetherspoon reported a higher annual pretax profit on Friday as more Britons visited its pubs even though overall consumer confidence and spending came under pressure due to Brexit uncertainties.
The company, which operates more than 900 pubs in Britain and Ireland, said pretax profit after exceptional items rose to £95.4 million for the year ended 28 July from £89 million a year earlier.
Pretax profit before exceptional items, however, fell 4.5% to £102.5 million.
Wetherspoon, like most restaurant chains in the country, has been battling increased costs due to a minimum wage hike, higher property prices and power bills. The company has also been investing in more labour intensive food and coffee business.
Total sales rose 7.4% to £1.82 billion, while like-for-like sales rose by 6.8%, with a jump in bar and food sales.
“Despite continuing political problems ... Wetherspoon continues to perform well. Like-for-like sales for the six weeks to 8 September 2019 were up 5.9%,” Chairman Tim Martin said in a statement.
The company's performance comes at a time when the UK's pub sector is brimming with deals. Rival Greene King is set to be bought by Hong-Kong's Ck Asset for £4.6 billion, while Slug and Lettuce pub chain owner Stonegate has agreed to buy Ei Group for £1.27 billion.
Greene King said earlier this year that a wet summer and poor sentiment had hurt its sales in its new financial year, after reporting a higher-than-expected annual profit in the previous 12 months.