Merry Christmas for JD Wetherspoon

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High street discounter JD Wetherspoon last week unveiled Christmas and New Year figures showing 4.2 per cent rise in like-for-like sales figures, a...

High street discounter JD Wetherspoon last week unveiled Christmas and New Year figures showing 4.2 per cent rise in like-for-like sales figures, a healthy rise in comparison to industry peers.

But the hike came at a cost with the company admitting it had pursued an aggressive pricing policy to achieve sales growth. JDW matched or bettered prices seen on the shelves of supermarket giant Sainsbury on much of its product range.

Managing director John Hutson said the move had resulted in slightly smaller margins. "Although we were way up on food, beer sales had gone a bit flat," he said.

"When that happens you can either cut back and retain profits or you can respond by trying to get the sales growth going again and that's what we did."

Sales in the six weeks to January 5, 2003 increased by 22 per cent to £86.9m. Mr Hutson said not much had changed in the market since JDW released a trading update in November. The company lowered profit expectations and reduced the number of new outlets planned.

Sales for the overall financial year to date, comprising 23 weeks to January 5, hit £311.8m, 22 per cent ahead of the same period last year. Overall like-for-like sales were up by 4.6 per cent.

The company opened 19 new pubs opened during the 23 weeks, bringing the total number of pubs to 627. The company estimates that between 50-60 new pubs will open in the current financial year.

The company expects to announce its interim results on 7th March 2003.

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