Wetherspoon festive sales disappoint City

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Like-for-like sales, Christmas tree

Shares in JD Wetherspoon plummeted yesterday after it revealed sales figures for the Christmas and the new year period. The group reported a rise in...

Shares in JD Wetherspoon plummeted yesterday after it revealed sales figures for the Christmas and the new year period.

The group reported a rise in like-for-like sales of 3.7 per cent.

The market's reaction reflected disappointment at the size of the sales rise, which compared with 9.4 per cent in the same period in the millennium year and a rise of almost 15 per cent the year before that.

The shares, which had run up to a 12-month high close to 450p, closed down 45.5p at 393p.

Tim Martin, founder and chairman, told thePublican.com: "It's our job to run the company and the City's job to price the shares. It was a very big reaction -whether it's justified remains to be seen."

He would only be worried if the long-term trend was down, but he pointed out that nine years ago the shares floated at the equivalent of 32p.

Mr Martin added: "I try not to pay too much attention to the share-price. I don't complain when then go up, nor when they go down. The shares have done very well overall and I think this company has a great future."

Wetherspoon has opened 23 pubs in the past 23 weeks, taking the chain to 550. That helped lift total sales in the year to date by 26 per cent to £254.6m, with like-for-like sales running 5.4 per cent ahead.

Jim Clarke, finance director, described the 3.7 per cent rise in the six weeks to January 6 as a good result: "If we can continue to move forward with the previous year's numbers in the base, well that is not a bad place to be."

In central London, where many industry experts were expecting an impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks to take hold, like-for-like sales were "not too far from the rest of the country" over Christmas and the New Year.

In November the company reported a 27 per cent rise in first-quarter sales alongside plans to accelerate the roll-out of its Lloyds No 1 brand.

Related topics: JD Wetherspoon

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