Sales across the J D Wetherspoon estate have once again risen, as the company reveals its Q2 business update.
For the first 12 weeks of the second quarter (to 19 January 2020), like-for-like sales increased by 4.7% and total sales by 4.2%. In the year to date (25 weeks to 19 January 2020), like-for-like sales increased by 5% and total sales by 4.9%.
Since the start of the financial year, the company has opened one new pub and sold five, and now intends to open a further 10 to 15. It is expected that around £80m will be spent this year on new pubs and pub extensions.
Wetherspoons, led by founder Tim Martin (pictured), has spent £57m in the year to date, buying the freehold reversions of 18 pubs of which it was previously the tenant. Full-year reversion expenditure is expected to be around £85m (£77m in 2019).
In addition, the company has spent £516m on buying and cancelling 53% of its own shares since the buyback programme started in 2003. Expenditure on reversions and buybacks approximately equals company debt. The latest statement declares that if the company had not bought shares or reversions, it would be more or less debt-free, having financed dividends, the repayment of 2003 borrowings of approximately £300m and the opening of a net 239 pubs, from free cash flow.
The company’s interim results for the six months ending 26 January 2020 are expected to be announced on 20 March 2020.