Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has used the release of the company’s latest financial results to once again talk up the UK’s prospects post-Brexit.
He said: “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. 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.”
J D Wetherspoon reported sales up 2% to 1,693.8m in the 52 weeks to July 29, with like-for-like sales up 5%. Profit before tax was up 16.5% to £89m.
The analyst’s view
Fiona Cincotta, a senior market analyst at www.cityindex.co.uk, said: “J D Wetherspoon has a habit of beating the street with its earnings numbers, and it hasn’t disappointed today.
“The company is managing costs well, helping it to increase its operating margin during what was admittedly a bumper time for British publicans.
“J D Wetherspoon has clearly benefited from the hot weather and World Cup — even though its pubs, with fewer beer gardens, perhaps cater a little less favourably to football fans.
“Sales have held up well in the first weeks of the new financial year, showing Wetherspoon’s brand and product offering are strong enough to attract punters even when the sun doesn’t shine.
“To be sure, the company has held its dividend flat, indicating management is wary of cost and demand pressures potentially biting in the years ahead.”