Boss Tim Martin says winner of Tory leadership vote should have ‘sensible economic policies and a plan we can all relate to’ as Wetherspoon shares dive
Plea: Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin
Tim Martin said the winner of the Tory leadership vote should have ‘sensible economic policies and a plan we can all relate to’.
The Wetherspoons chairman, who campaigned for Brexit alongside Boris Johnson, said the Prime Minister’s downfall was his lack of a ‘proper economic plan’.
He called for the winner to equalise VAT for pubs and supermarkets.
Pubs pay 20 per cent VAT on food sales. Grocers pay none.
Martin said that left pubs ‘fighting with one hand tied behind their back’.
He accused successive governments of robbing the poor – pubs – and giving to the rich, supermarkets.
Wetherspoons shares crashed after it warned its post-Covid recovery was ‘slower and more laborious’ than expected as demand for beer fell flat.
In a bleak update, the company expects losses of £30m this year, having previously predicted it would break even. The shares fell 8.3 per cent, or 52.5p, to 577.5p yesterday.
The 861-strong pub chain has been hit by soaring staff costs as well as heavy marketing and repair bills after its reopening. And, worryingly for the business, founder and chairman Tim Martin said sales of draught ales, lagers and ciders were weak.
While sales of cocktails are 18.6 per cent above pre-pandemic levels and spirits 4..4 percent higher, beer and cider sales are still down 8 per cent.
The pub boss blamed a mix of young people turning to cocktails and the prevalence of working from home, which means fewer people going for boozy lunches and drinks after a day in the office. Overall sales in the past 11 weeks were 0.4 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. In the previous quarter they were down 4 per cent.
Martin said the company and economy were still feeling the effects of Covid lockdowns.
He said: ‘Large numbers of people have left the workforce, mainly through early retirement. Many people now work from home, rather than from offices, which has had a significant impact on transport and hospitality businesses.
‘The fear factor used by governments to encourage compliance with lockdowns and restrictions has also had lingering after-effects, with many people remaining cautious about leaving their homes.’
- Bar chain Loungers posted record results. Sales tripled last year to £237.3m while profits were up nearly fourfold to £53.6m. It has 200 bars, cafes and restaurants.