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Wetherspoon to target rural communities

From The Publican

By Hamish Champ , 11-Mar-2011

Live and work in a rural community? Then a Wetherspoon pub could be opening up near you, if the managed operator has its way.


John Hutson, Wetherspoons' chief executive, said he was looking to open pubs in smaller towns in parts of the country previously untouched by the company.


Highlighting a recent opening in the Cornish town of Perranporth, Hutson said: "The answer to whether we want to open up pubs in rural locations is simply yes, we do.


"We have pubs in places such as Hawick and Galashiels in Scotland and we will be looking to open more pubs in similar-sized communities," he said.


Wetherspoon has historically been a high street-style operator, but Hutson said the idea of a rural version of one of its pub did not represent a strategic shift, so much as a recognition that its ability to trade well is recognised by towns across the UK.


"When we move into a town like Perranporth it acts as a big draw. We get massive amounts of trade at the weekend, with people coming in from miles away," he added.


Food sales were a big part of the offer in such pubs, Hutson said, contributing to half the turnover of its Hawick outlet.


The group announced today it remains on track to open 50 new pubs in the current financial year. Earlier it revealed first half turnover of £525.4m, up 7.6 per cent, while pre-tax profits of £32.2m, down 11 per cent, were hit by higher costs and interest charges.

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