J D Wetherspoon sales rise, chairman talks Brexit

J D Wetherspoon sales rise, chairman talks Brexit

J D Wetherspoon posted a rise in sales in a pre-closing trading statement on Wednesday, in addition to a commentary concerning Brexit by the company’s Chairman.

For the 10 weeks to 7 July, like-for-like sales rose by 6.9%, with total sales increasing by 6.6%, the business said in a pre-closing trading statement for the financial year ending 28 July.

Year-to-date like-for-like sales have increased by 6.7% and total sales increased by 7.4%, the national pub and hotel chain added.

J D Wetherspoon, which opened five new pubs and disposed of nine across the year, said that it remains in a “sound” financial position. It expects net debt at the end of this financial year to be roughly £745 million.

The company’s Chairman, Tim Martin, provided a commentary in the trading statement concerning the nation’s departure from the European Union.

“The main issue for shareholders, which dominates debate, relates to the nature of the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU,” Tim Martin, Chairman of Wetherspoon, said in a company statement.

“The dichotomy between a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and a ‘deal’, as it is often portrayed in the media, politics and business, is highly misleading. The term no-deal really means ‘multi-deal’ – a multitude of deals agreed between individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations.’’

“In contrast the term ‘deal’ refers to a ‘mono-deal’ – a single overarching agreement, which aims to govern the entire relationship between the UK and the EU.”

“In reality, a multi-deal Brexit (ie no-deal) is already proceeding at pace. Jean Marc Puissesseau, the boss of the port of Calais, has said ‘there will not be any delay’ in Calais. Ryanair has said that fears about planes not flying post-Brexit ‘is no longer a risk’. British Airways agrees.”

“Wetherspoon, for example, has made arrangements to replace French champagne and brandy, and German beer, with alternatives from the UK, Australia and America. In addition, most spirits and beer exports to the EU from non-EU countries are not subject to tariffs, in any event.”

“Initial fears about huge post-referendum job losses in the City of London have proved to be wide of the mark, as legal and practical arrangements have been made.”

“These sorts of deals and arrangements are the tip of a giant iceberg of similar transactions, across the trading spectrum, negotiated and facilitated by individuals, businesses and civil servants – the negative undertone of no-deal is an illusion.”

“The real issue for the UK relates to the desirability of an overarching mono-deal, governing all aspects of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, as envisaged in Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement.”

“The multi-deal approach, which immediately allows the UK to trade freely with the rest of the world, is a better alternative. As the House of Lords said in March 2017, there is then no legal liability to make any payments to the EU.”

“It enables the UK to regain control of fishing and to eliminate tariffs on thousands of non-EU imports, such as bananas, rice, wine and children’s clothes – many of which are not produced in the UK.”

The Chairman concluded by returning to Wetherspoon and underlining that the company’s expectation for its annual results is unchanged for the current financial year.

Shares in J D Wetherspoon (LON:JDW) were up 2.63% as of 10:40 BST Wednesday.