British pub operator JD Wetherspoon has slipped into a first-half year-on-year loss as all of its pubs were closed during the holidays due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the company has warned of a tough future for the hospitality sector because of ongoing curbs.
Its chairman Tim Martin said that the future of the industry depends on a "consistent set of sensible policies" and the ending of lockdowns and tier systems.
Wetherspoon is set to open beer gardens, rooftop gardens and patios at nearly 400 of its UK pubs next month in light of easing restrictions.
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"We think JDW should be able to get close to pre-COVID-19 profit levels in FY22," Stifel analyst Mark Irvine-Fortescue said.
The company, which posted its first annual loss since 1984 in fiscal year 2020, has had to cut hundreds of jobs and ask investors for money twice, to get through the pandemic.
Wetherspoon also kept its dividend suspended and recorded a pre-tax loss of £46.2 million for the six month period that ended on January 24. It recorded a profit of £57.9 million a year earlier.
Lost St. Patrick's Day Sales
On St. Patrick's Day alone, pubs lost out on 14 million sales of pints, while £8.2 billion in trade value was wiped out from the sector just in beer sales since the first round of lockdowns last year, the British Beer and Pub Association has estimated.
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