Wetherspoon pub chain report a 7.4% rise in sales to £1.8bn for the year to July

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 13th 2019) London, Uk – –

Boss Tim Martin dismisses worst-case scenario document for no-deal Brexit as ‘bollocks’

The boss of JD Wetherspoon has claimed consumers are in a good mood despite political turmoil as he lauded rising sales at the pub chain and dismissed the government’s Yellowhammer papers as “bollocks”.

Tim Martin, an ardent Brexiter who has long supported a no-deal exit from the EU, said consumers were proving resilient in the current political environment as wage growth, low interest rates and rising employment levels have kept spirits high.

“About two or three years ago … the main anxiety was that consumers were overspending and credit card debt was going up and so on. I haven’t read those headlines so much recently,” he said.

“Household income is at or near record levels, there’s record employment and interest rates are low. So I think people are in a good mood. There’s a fair bit of political turmoil but I wouldn’t say it’s having a massive effect on people going out.”

It came as the pub chain reported a 7.4% rise in sales to £1.8bn for the year to July, compared with £1.7bn a year earlier. However, the same wage growth that underpinned consumer sentiment dragged on pre-tax profit, with a higher wage bill at Wetherspoon contributing to a 4.5% fall in profits to £102.5m. Pub improvements, involving kitchen upgrades, maintenance and the creation of new beer gardens, also increased costs.

Martin said the new financial year got off to a strong start, with like-for-like sales over the six weeks to 8 September up 5.9%. He insisted the pub chain would do well over the next year despite warnings over the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this week, the government was forced to release documents outlining its worst-case scenario “planning assumptions” for a no-deal Brexit. The Operation Yellowhammer papers revealed that no deal could result in rising food and fuel prices, public disorder and disruptions to supplies of medicine.

“Yellowhammer is bollocks,” Martin told the Guardian.

“I’m hoping … that we leave on 31 October without a deal. I think that will be better for the country because we can eliminate tariffs on non-EU imports, which push up prices in the shops, so we can reduce shop prices, we can avoid the payment of £39bn [to the EU], or most of it, and can regain control of fishing. But most importantly we can increase the level of democracy – and I think democracy and prosperity are very closely linked.”

By Kalyeena Makortoff