Wetherspoons warns over labour costs

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin Image copyright AFP

JD Wetherspoon has warned that pre-tax profits for the first half of its financial year will be down on 2018.

The pub chain blamed a £30m rise in labour costs, along with the rising cost of interest payments, utility bills, repairs and depreciation.

But company chairman Tim Martin said full-year profits would be in line with current expectations.

Like-for-like sales, which take out the effect of new pubs, rose 7.2% in the first 12 weeks of the second quarter.

Mr Martin said in the 12 weeks to 20 January sales growth had been strong. However, he added: "Costs, as previously indicated, are considerably higher than the previous year, especially labour, which has increased by about £30m."

Mr Martin told the BBC in September that its food and drinks would become pricier.

He also used the latest trading update to reiterate his views on Brexit.

Mr Martin argues that no deal with the European Union would leave the UK better off, as tariffs would be reduced on imports from outside the European Union.

A no-deal scenario would also save the £39bn break-up payment due to the European Union, he said.

Wetherspoons is replacing champagne and prosecco with non-European Union sparkling wines.

There has also been a switch in the beers available. Wheat beer and alcohol-free beer from the UK are replacing beers brewed in Germany.

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