JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin presented his company’s full year results this morning, at a press conference held at his central London venue the Crosse Keys.
The figures released were for the 52 weeks ended 29 July 2018, which stated like-for-like sales were up 5% and revenue up 2% to £1.69bn.
Profit before tax stood at £107.2m, up from £102.8m the year before. Food sales have almost doubled per pub in the last 10 years.
Cost increases for the operator included wages (+7.5%), repairs (+10%) and business rates (+5%).
The pub chain’s 40,000 employees have been paid £43m in bonuses and free shares, of which 82% was paid to staff working in the pubs. There was a £20m investment in hourly paid staff last year, and this is increasing in November 2018 with a further £27m investment planned.
“There will be a huge gain for business and consumers if the UK copies the free trade approach of countries like Singapore, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Israel, by slashing protectionist EU import taxes (‘tariffs’), on leaving the EU in March next year,” says Martin.
“These invisible tariffs are charged on over 12,000 non-EU products, including rice, oranges, coffee, wine and children’s clothes.
“The proceeds are collected by the UK taxman and sent to Brussels. Ending tariffs will reduce shop and pub prices, improve living standards, and will help non-EU suppliers, currently discouraged by tariffs, quotas and the extensive paraphernalia of EU protectionism.
“If parliament votes to end tariffs and rejects the ‘Chequers Deal’, consumers and business will benefit additionally by avoiding a cost of £39bn, or £60m per UK constituency, in respect of the EU ‘divorce payment’ – for which there is no legal obligation.
“Parliament can also regain control of UK fishing waters, where 60% of the catch is currently taken by EU boats.
“Unfortunately, some individuals, businesses and business organisations have mistakenly, or misleadingly, repeated the myth that food prices will rise without a ‘deal’ with the EU.
“In fact, the only way prices can rise post-Brexit is if parliament votes to impose tariffs. The EU will have no say in the matter, provided that the government does not sign away the UK’s rights in a ‘deal’ in the meantime.
“Like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 9 September increased by 5.5%. The company has had a reasonable start to the financial year, but taxes, labour and interest costs are expected to be higher than those of last year, so we estimate that like-for-like sales growth of about 4% will be required for the company to match last year’s record profits.”
Discussions around the table included his views on the future of the EU, as well as his decision to turn to UK non-EU food and drink producers.