Wetherspoon, which has around 70 pubs in Scotland, reported that revenue climbed by 3% to £916m in the 26 weeks to January 29 , with like-for-like sales 5% ahead of the same period in 2019. And the company signalled that sales since the period-end were running ahead of comparable periods in its last financial year and prior to the pandemic breaking out.
Shares were up sharply in moring trading.
The company reported first-half profits of £4.6m, compared with a loss of £26.1m last year but well adrift of the £50.3m profit reported at the same stage in 2019, as chairman and founder Tim Martin highlighted the “ferocious” cost pressures facing pubs.
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Mr Martin, a vocal supporter of Brexit, said: “Trade for the last seven weeks was 9.1% above the equivalent period in FY19 and 14.9% above the equivalent period in our last financial year (FY22).
“As reported last year, the company has a full complement of staff, although the labour market is competitive, with unemployment, in spite of economic problems, at approximately its lowest level in the last 50 or so years.
“Supply or delivery issues have largely disappeared, for now, and were probably a phenomenon of the stresses induced by the worldwide reopening after the pandemic, rather than a consequence of Brexit, as many commentators have argued.
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“Inflationary pressures in the pub industry, as many companies have said, have been ferocious, particularly in respect of energy, food, and labour. The Bank of England, and other authorities, believe that inflation is on the wane, which will certainly be of great benefit, if correct.
“Having experienced a substantial improvement in sales and profits, compared to our most recent financial year, and with a strengthened balance sheet, compared both to last year and to the pre-pandemic period, the company is cautiously optimistic about further progress in the current financial year and in the years ahead.”