JD Wetherspoon to spend £80m on estate

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Pub investment: JD Wetherspoon announced its plans for the next year
Pub investment: JD Wetherspoon announced its plans for the next year

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JD Wetherspoon has announced it will spend £80m on opening new sites and revamping existing pubs as it celebrated a sales boost.

The pub behemoth shared a trading update for the first 12 weeks of the second quarter (to 19 January 2020), which saw like-for-like sales boosted by 4.7%.

In the year to date (25 weeks to 19 January 2020), like-for-like sales increased by 5%.

JDW chairman Tim Martin said: “We continue to anticipate a trading outcome for this financial year in line with our previous expectations.”

The pubco has opened one new pub and sold five since the start of the financial year, with plans to open a further 10 to 15.

It estimated about £80m will be spent on new sites and extensions – such as £7m for the Moon Under Water, in Wolverhampton​ – this year.

Some £57m has been spent buying back the freeholds of 18 pubs that were previously tenanted in the year to date, with full-year reversion expenditure expected to be around £85m.

Price cuts

The pub chain revealed it was slashing prices on popular drinks from the EU this month​, a move that somewhat contradicted Martin’s eagerness to stock homegrown products.

In the trading update, Martin identified some food and drink sector organisations that he said were “doubling down on ‘project fear’ stories” about Brexit.

He highlighted warnings from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) about the potential for job shortages and food price increases after the UK leaves.

Martin said: “Elimination of tariffs will obviously reduce prices.

“It is high time these organisations took a wise-up pill and supported the democratic decisions of the UK.”

The chairman also commented on the country’s system of corporate governance, calling it “remote, counterproductive and inflexible”.

He said: “The main consequence of the current governance system is short-termist and inexperienced boards, which have minimal representation from executives and the workforce – the people who are best placed to understand and run the business.”

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