By Tony Halstead and The PMA Team JD Wetherspoon has pulled out of a scheme to develop a £3.3m pub in Dublin city centre in a major change of strategy. The company had bought the freehold of a former furniture store on Capel Street for £1.8m in a move that would have seen the first-ever opening of a JD Wetherspoon pub outside of the UK. A further investment of £1.5m was planned for a conversion of the two-storey site with a view to an opening in December. But the company has now had a change of heart, with some sources claiming that it wants to focus on its pubs in Northern Ireland. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon confirmed the decision had been made following a review of the company's new openings programme. "We decided servicing just one pub in the whole of southern Ireland would be difficult and the venue simply too far out on a limb. "We do operate nine pubs in Northern Ireland which are collectively a lot easier to service, but one pub in the Republic is one too far," he said. "Unfortunately, this has just come at the wrong time although we would not rule out the possibility of pubs in the Republic in the future," Gershon added. Wetherspoon said it was possible it might make a small profit on the sale of the premises, although legal fees would have to be written off. The decision to withdraw from the Dublin site comes in a year that has seen a dramatic scaling down of the company's opening programme. In 2001, the company undertook 90 new openings, but this year it expects in the region of 50 new sites to open. One analyst said: "The company has withdrawn from quite a number of possible sites around the country." l Like-for-like sales rose by 3.5% in the 11 weeks prior to 13 July. In April the company's like-for-like sales increases had slowed to just 2.3%. Wetherspoon may switch uniform style Staff uniforms in Wetherspoon pubs across the UK could soon be getting a colour change after trials at the Banker's Draft in Sheffield. Bar and table staff switched to a "crisp" white shirt and dark blue tie style after manager Rob Prince decided to experiment with a new look. Prince offered to stage the trials after the white-shirt look impressed operations director Nathan Wall, who spotted them in a bar during a trip to Amsterdam. "The shirt-and-tie image gave staff a very smart look and we are now considering extending it across the estate," said a spokesman. All Wetherspoon staff currently wear a blue check shirt as the official company uniform.