Like-for-like sales at JD Wetherspoon increased by 3.5% during the 13 weeks to April 29, the company reports today, with total sales up by 2.8%.
Year-to-date like-for-like sales have increased by 5.2% and total sales are up by 3.8%.
The third quarter last year included the early May bank holiday, but the third quarter this year did not, which is likely to have reduced like-for-like sales by about 0.5% in the period.
Chief executive, Tim Martin, said: “A debate is currently taking place as to whether the UK should remain in the EU’s customs union post-Brexit. I feel sure that the UK should leave. This will enable Parliament to eliminate taxes on non-EU food and drink imports, reducing prices in the shops, which will immediately improve living standards.
“It makes no sense for the UK to continue to impose taxes on New World wines, coffee, rice and thousands of other products, and then to send the proceeds to Brussels. The EU masquerades as a free trade organisation, but it is really a protection racket which imposes import taxes on the 93% of the world’s population that is not in the EU.
“The UK should copy countries like New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, which have successfully adopted free trade policies, rather than being beholden to the undemocratic EU and its unelected presidents.
Sales growth slows
“As anticipated, the rate of like-for-like sales growth slowed slightly in the third quarter. We continue to face significant cost increases in the second half in areas which include labour, business rates and the sugar tax. There is also some uncertainty as to the effect on sales of the FIFA World Cup.
“We continue to anticipate a trading outcome for this financial year in line with our previous expectations.”
Since the start of the financial year, the company has opened five new pubs and sold 19. It intends to open one further pub in the current financial year. It believes the market value of the estate remains comfortably above the net book value.
The company has spent £15.4m on buying the freeholds of pubs of which it was previously a tenant, and has bought back £51.6m of shares in the financial year to date.