JD Wetherspoon is ‘ready to leave the EU’, says its chairman

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Prepared: Tim Martin says Wetherspoon is now ready to leave the EU
Prepared: Tim Martin says Wetherspoon is now ready to leave the EU

Related tags International trade World trade organization Eu

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin says the company is “now ready to leave the EU” as it believes there is “almost no preparation required”.

The prospect of a “no deal” seems not to worry Martin either, as Wetherspoon has calculated that this approach would reduce the average cost of a meal by around 3.5p, and the cost of a drink by 0.5p, he said.

A ‘no deal’ would result in Britain trading with the EU under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

“The lowest food prices can be obtained by the UK, without the need for the agreement or consent of any third party, by avoiding a ‘transitional deal’, which would keep EU tariffs in place, and leaving the EU in March 2019,” said Martin.

“This would enable the UK to scrap EU food tariffs, as permitted under World Trade Organisation rules, on food imported from outside the EU. Under WTO rules, tariffs would not then be charged on imports from the EU either.”

Cliff Edge

The comments come after the chairman of Sainsbury’s was recently quoted in the Sunday Times​ warning of a ‘no deal’ Brexit cost on food prices.

Martin said he believed current information around food tariffs is “designed to support the view that staying in the EU for an additional two years is necessary to avoid a ‘cliff edge’.

“There is no cliff edge,” he said.

“Wetherspoon, for example, is ready now to leave the EU, since almost no preparation is required.”

Like-for-like sales

In the 13 weeks to 29 October 2017, Wetherspoon’s like-for-like sales increased by 6.1% and total sales by 4.3%.

The pubco has opened two new pubs since the start of the financial year and has sold six, and intends to open between 10 and 15 pubs in the current financial year.

On the figures, Martin said: “Although it is only a short period, the company has had a positive start to the year.

“Sales have continued at a slightly higher-than-expected level since we last reported on 15 September.

“Costs, as many pub and restaurant companies have indicated, have been significantly higher than last year, and further increases are expected in areas including labour, business rates, utilities and sugar taxes.”

Wetherspoon said it would provide updates as it progresses through the current financial year, but at present anticipates a trading outcome for the financial year in line with its expectations.

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