JD Wetherspoon is to sell 17 bottom-end suburban pubs in the largest-ever disposal of properties by the managed chain. The 17 pubs 12 freeholds and five leaseholds are to be sold by Fleurets, which will send details to 150 potential buyers in a discreet marketing campaign. Although each pub sells in excess of 1,000 annual barrels, JD Wetherspoon does not see the sites as capable of achieving the company average of £27,000 per week. A company spokesman said: "Four or five years ago the company was trying to build a community-based estate but believes these pubs will not turn over £27,000 a week, which is our benchmark. They are, however, successful pubs in their own right. They will continue to trade until a buyer is found." The sale of the pubs means that JD Wetherspoon, which has 630 pubs, will see its smallest expansion for a number of years with 50 new pubs scheduled to open. The 17 pubs are spread geographically throughout the UK, and one Wetherspoon manager, whose pub is up for sale, spoke of his shock and surprise after being told the news. Licensee James Morris, of the George & Dragon, Tyldesley near Bolton, said there had been no inkling of Wetherspoon's plans. "Business has been good and sales have been growing, so all this has come like a bolt out of the blue. "I don't know why they have chosen us, perhaps it's because we are more of a traditional type pub which does not fit into the Wetherspoon criteria," he said. "All the staff were shocked when they got the news because none of them expected something like this to happen," he added. Analyst Stuart Price said: "This is a way of getting rid of the underperforming tail of the estate to improve the overall performance across the estate.