- JD Wetherspoon’s LFL sales grew 9.5% in the 14 weeks ending November 5
- Since the start of the year, JD Wetherspoon shares have risen more than 50%
- The company returned to a pre-tax profit of £42.6m in the last financial year.
JD Wetherspoon’s boss has hailed a sustained “gradual improvement” in revenue, following strong demand for food and drink since the end of July, and easing cost pressures.
The pub chain, which operates 816 outlets across the UK, reported like-for-like sales growth of 9.5 per cent in the 14 weeks ending November 5.
The turnover growth was driven by a 10.7 per cent rise in bar orders, which comprise the majority of the company’s trade, but food sales also rose by 8.7 per cent, while Revenue from slot machines and fruit machines grew 10 percent.
Recovery: JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin (pictured) said sales “have continued the pattern of gradual improvement that followed the end of lockdowns and restrictions”.
In September, the Watford-based group’s like-for-like revenue rose 9.4 per cent, compared with 5.9 per cent across the hospitality sector, according to Coffer CGA Business Tracker.
Wetherspoon’s trading update comes a month after it revealed a return to an annual pre-tax profit of £42.6m thanks to the absence of Covid-related restrictions on hospitality venues.
On Wednesday, President Tim Martin said sales “have continued the pattern of gradual improvement that followed the end of lockdowns and restrictions.”
He added: “Inflationary pressures have eased, but energy costs in particular remain at much higher levels than before the pandemic, putting pressure on suppliers and the broader economy.”
Britain’s pubs, restaurants and bars have struggled with rising gas and electricity bills in recent years due to easing coronavirus rules and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Rising energy prices have also led to much higher food and beverage costs, while interest rate increases and rail workers’ strikes have caused a further drag on sales and profitability.
Recent figures from property adviser Altus Group found that 383 pubs in England and Wales closed during the first half of 2023, equivalent to more than two a day and almost the same number that closed throughout last year.
Since the end of January, Wetherspoon’s total pub stock has fallen by 27 to 816, with six venues giving up their leases and another four sold in the last quarter.
Jocelyn Paulley, retail partner at law firm Gowling WLG, said: With rising energy and raw material costs hitting the pub chain’s profits, chairman Tim Martin is focusing on selling some of the pub chain’s properties. the company to alleviate this pressure and generate additional cash flow. .
“This will allow the business to focus on fewer pubs and further improve its offering to attract customers.”
JD Wetherspoon Stock they rose 1 per cent to £6.83 late on Wednesday morning, taking their total gains for the year to more than 50 per cent.