Cocktail and spirits sales up, ale sales down for JDW

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Company results: a trading update from JD Wetherspoon revealed spirits and cocktail sales had increased while sales of draught products had dropped (image: Getty/pixhook)
Company results: a trading update from JD Wetherspoon revealed spirits and cocktail sales had increased while sales of draught products had dropped (image: Getty/pixhook)

Related tags Jd wetherspoon Cocktails Spirits Finance Managed pubs

Cocktail, vodka and rum sales have risen for pub giant JD Wetherspoon (JDW) but draught products including traditional ale and stout sales have declined.

In a trading update for the 15 weeks to 7 November 2021, it revealed cocktails had seen a 45% rise, vodka 17% and rum 26%. However, traditional ales were down by almost a third (30%) and stout by a fifth (20%).

It also revealed the company's food offer volumes appeared to have been impacted by some customers working from home with breakfast down by 22% and coffee sales decreased by 30%.

For its pubs trading under ‘Lloyds’, which have music mostly at the weekends, sales were relatively flat with a rise of 0.5%.

Overall, the company also reported like-for-like sales at 8.9% lower than the same period in 2019.

Bar sales fell by 9.6%, food by 8.1%, but hotels were up by 11.5% and fruit/slot machines by 12.3%. however, this was an improvement against sales of the last 10 weeks of the previous financial year (10 weeks to 25 July) when pubs were open but restrictions in place for most of the period, where overall sales were down by 17.8%.

Regional report

A number of the pub group’s sites have seen positive trading such as Liverpool saw a rise of 9.1% sales, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 11.1%, Oxford 11.3%, Chester 4.3%, Bournemouth 4.2%. Nottingham 3.6%, Cardiff 3.5% and Manchester 0.4%. However, for the central London area, sales fell by almost a fifth (17.4%).

For its sites at transport hubs, sales also fell by 38.8% at airport venues, almost a quarter (22.4%) at stations.

This was also the case in Scottish sites – a sales decrease of 12.2% and Northern Ireland of 11% where some restrictions are still in place.

The update also mentioned supply chain issues, which JDW said it had experienced from time to time but had usually related to a minority of items, for which, it had almost always been able to find alternatives.

It added that overall, stocking levels of bar and food products had been in line with previous years and while issues had eased recently, it went on to warn the busy Christmas period was still ahead.

The company also reported some isolated recruitment difficulties in staycation areas during the summer period and ‘pingdemic’ but stated there had been a reasonable level of job applications.

Recruitment update

Furthermore, the number of employees at JDW has risen from 36,987 when pubs first reopening in April to 42,240 at present.

JDW chairman Tim Martin said: “With no music in JDW pubs (apart from 46 trading as Lloyds), a material proportion of our trade comes from older customers, some of whom have visited pubs less frequently in recent times.

“As outlined in our annual report published in October 2021, there have been no outbreaks of Covid-19, as defined by the health authorities, among customers in JDW pubs.

“However, some customers have been understandably cautious. Improvement in trade will therefore, depend to some extent, on the outlook for the Covid-19 virus.

“Whereas, we have an increased element of caution about near-term sales, ‘booster’ vaccinations and better weather in the spring are likely to have a positive impact in the coming months.

“The past 18 months have presented a considerable challenge to the hospitality industry, with many unexpected twists and turns.

“As in previous downturns, the company will continue to concentrate on providing high standards of  service, reasonable prices and regular, small upgrades to the business.”

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