Some £56m has been pumped into the acquisition of new pub freeholds, which were formerly tenanted, so far this financial year.
In a quarter two update for the 12 weeks to 20 January, JDW’s like-for-like sales increased by 7.2%, with total sales up 8.3% for the same period.
Year to date sales, covering the 25 weeks to 20 January 2019, like-for-like sales rose by 6.3%.
Net debt to rise
JDW’s expects net debt to rise by £10m at the end of this financial year, and has agreed a revolving credit facility of £875m, which will mature in 2024.
Chairman Martin said JDW’s sales growth had been strong since the last update in quarter one of the year.
Costs, however, were now considerably higher for the pub group compared with last year, including labour, which has increased by £30m.
Martin said: “The most frequently asked question, regarding the future, relates to the impact of leaving the EU.
£39bn to the EU
“I have argued that the UK – and therefore Wetherspoon – will benefit from a free-trade approach, by avoiding a ‘deal’ which involves the payment of £39bn to the EU, which the House of Lords [appendix 1] has confirmed there is no legal liability.”
Martin, who is outspoken about Brexit, believes such an approach would allow the UK, without the agreement of the EU, to end some or all “of the protectionist tariffs and quotas that apply on non-EU imports”.
Such imports would include “rice, oranges, bananas, coffee, wine, children’s clothes and over 12,000 other products – many of which are not produced in this country,” said Martin.
“Ending tariffs reduces prices for consumers, without loss of government income, since the proceeds are currently remitted to Brussels.”