JD Wetherspoon has grown sales despite halving its number of new pub openings.
The pub operator's pre-tax profits for the year to July 27 were slightly ahead of City forecasts, up 5 per cent to £56.1m. Turnover increased by 22 per cent to £730.9m, with like-for-like sales across the year up 4.1 per cent.
The year saw Wetherspoon open 45 new pubs, compared with 87 in the previous financial year, bringing its total to 638. Last November, Wetherspoon announced that its was looking to renegotiate all property deals due to a fall in demand from rival pub operators.
Chairman Tim Martin (pictured)) said: "The new pubs are in a variety of locations throughout Britain and Northern Ireland and have opened at initial sales levels which are encouraging for the future. As a result of our strong cash flow, our track record over many years and our excellent management team, I remain confident of our future prospects.'
However, with most of its pubs in town centres, the business did not see the full benefits of the hot weather during August, with like-for-like sales growth slipping back to 3.5 per cent with total company sales up by 12 per cent. Other operators have reported that customers deserted town centres during the heatwave in favour of waterside pubs.
Wetherspoon plans a final dividend of 2.33p per share, bringing the total dividend for the year to 3.54p, up 10 per cent on last year.