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JD Wetherspoon boss warns EU leaders to ‘wise up’ over Brexit talks | City & Business | Finance

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Shares in the FTSE 250 chain, which operates nearly 900 watering holes, frothed up 145p to a record high 1189p as annual pre-tax profi t before exceptional items jumped 27.6 per cent to £102.8million after increasing its revenue by 4.1 per cent to £1.66billion.

Like-for-like sales growth has accelerated from 4 per cent over the year to July 30 to 6.1 per cent, although Martin cautioned this was unlikely to last.

High-profile campaigner Martin said the rise in input costs after the pound weakened following last year’s referendum had been “very small” compared with the £7million each in excise duty and business rates.

He said the hardline stance of the “unelected oligarchs” could backfire if UK importers such as Wetherspoon, which is a major customer for Sweden’s Kopparberg cider and whose biggest selling single product is Lavazza coffee, switch to non-single market suppliers.

He said: “The main risk from the current Brexit negotiations is not to Wetherspoon, but to our excellent EU suppliers, and to EU economies.

“As a result of their posturing and threats, EU negotiators are encouraging importers like Wetherspoon to look elsewhere for supplies.

This process is unlikely to have adverse effects on the UK economy, as companies will be able to switch to suppliers representing the 93 per cent of the world’s population which is not in the EU, but this will be highly damaging to the EU economy.

“Wetherspoon is extremely confident that it can switch from EU suppliers, if required, although we would be very reluctant to initiate such actions.”

Wetherspoon’s investment in breakfast trading, kitchens, beer gardens and accommodation paid off as like-for-like food sales increased by 5.7 per cent, hotels by 9.9 per cent and bar sales 3.1 per cent.

Martin added: “We have almost become fashionable. People used to deprecate our pubs on perception they were of a lower standard but when the food standards reports came out a lot of unjustified criticism melted away.”


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