Despite re-evaluating its Irish expansion plans late last year, a spokesperson for JD Wetherspoon has commented that the pub chain is trading very well in Ireland and is "hopeful for favourable planning outcomes at two sites in Dublin".
Speaking to The Irish Examiner, the spokesperson said that there is a "projected investment of €20m on both sites [Abbey Street and Camden Street] and the creation of 20 jobs," adding that further development is being considered at its Waterford and Carlow sites but that it has no immediate plans for expansion in Cork.
In its Q2 trading update, the company stated that for the first 12 weeks of the second quarter (to 15 January 2017), like-for-like sales increased by 3.2 per cent and total sales by 0.7 per cent. It expects the operating margin (before any exceptional items) for the half year ending 22 January 2017 to be around 8.0 per cent, an increase of 1.7% higher compared to the same period last year.
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The report said that the company intends to open 10 to 15 pubs in the current financial year and that it has sold the
majority of those pubs which had been put on the market in 2016, adding that the company "remains in a sound financial position".
Founder and chairman Tim Martin (pictured) said: "In recent weeks, I have been asked frequently by the media to comment on the difference between the apocalyptic predictions by most economists for the economy and the actual outcome, following the referendum. As previously indicated, the company anticipates significantly higher costs in the second half of the financial year.
"On an annualised basis, these are expected to rise by about 4 per cent for wages, by £7m for business rates and by £2m for the Apprenticeship Levy, in addition to cost increases at around the level of inflation in other areas. As previously announced, the company intends to increase the level of capital investment in existing pubs from £34m in 2015/6 to around £60m in the current year. In view of these additional costs and our expectation that like-for-like sales will be lower in the next six months, the company remains cautious about the second half of the year.
"Nevertheless, as a result of modestly better-than-expected year-to-date sales, we currently anticipate a slightly improved trading outcome for the current financial year, compared with our expectations at the last update."