Wetherspoons sees ‘more normal’ trade but cost pressures grow

Bosses said the pub group is in a strong position, with ‘a full complement of staff’ and ‘fully stocked’.

18 March 2022

Pub giant JD Wetherspoon said it has seen a “return to more normal trading patterns in recent weeks” following the end of pandemic restrictions.

The group said sales over the past three weeks have been marginally below pre-pandemic levels as it more than halved its losses amid the continued recovery in trade.

Bosses said the company is in a strong position, with “a full complement of staff” and is “fully stocked” despite reports regarding supply pressures.

Chairman Tim Martin said it has witnessed cost increases in its supply chain.

Tim Martin announces Wetherspoon results
Wetherspoons founder and chairman Tim Martin said the pub group has seen cost increases in its supply chain (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“There is pressure on input costs from food, drink and energy suppliers, mitigated to an extent by a number of long-term contracts,” he said.

“Overall, the company expects the increase in input prices to be slightly less than the level of inflation.”

The inflationary pressure also comes as Wetherspoons prepares for VAT on food and non-alcoholic drinks to increase from 12.5% to 20% at the end of the month.

Mr Martin said the company has benefited from the end to “draconian measures” brought in due to the pandemic.

“Following a traumatic two years for many businesses and people, the ending of Covid restrictions has brought a return to more normal trading patterns in recent weeks,” he said.

“As indicated above, trade for the last three weeks was 2.6% below the equivalent period in 2019, reflecting an improving trend.”

It came as Wetherspoons reported a pre-tax loss of £21.3 million for the 26 weeks to January 23, compared with a £46.2 million loss over the same period the previous year.

Nevertheless, it compared with a £51.6 million profit for the same period until January 2020, before the pandemic struck.

The pub group said revenues dropped by 13.5% to £807.4 million compared with pre-pandemic levels, but were almost double revenues from the same period last year.

It added that like-for-like sales fell 11.8% on a two-year basis, driven by a 12.7% fall in a bar sales, while its hotel rooms saw a 6.6% jump.

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