JD Wetherspoon profits surge but boss uses earnings report to rip into EU

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Shares in JD Wetherspoon hit a record high on Friday after the pub group reported a surge in annual pre-tax profit.

But instead of focusing on the company’s underlying performance, chief executive Tim Martin – a vehement Brexiteer—largely used the earnings report as a platform to reiterate his passionate views on Britain’s split from the EU.

“Most ‘PLCs’ are expected to comment, in their results’ statements, on the UK’s prospects outside of the EU and on the likely impact on their individual companies,” Mr Martin writes in the opening paragraph of the earnings report.

“It is my view that the main risk from the current Brexit negotiations is not to Wetherspoon, but to our excellent EU suppliers – and to EU economies,” he adds.

“In the current negotiations, democratically-elected politicians from the UK are dealing with unelected oligarchs from the EU. Since the oligarchs are not subject to judgement at the ballot box, their approach is dictated by more sectarian factors – the interests and ideology of EU apparatchiks like them, rather than residents or businesses from EU countries,” he writes.

Wetherspoon’s, which owns around 900 pubs, said that pre-tax profit had jumped over 27 per cent to £102.8m. Earnings per share increased by more than 43 per cent, but Mr Martin does not refer in detail to the company’s performance until the final paragraph of the report, in which he warns of challenges ahead.

“Since the year end, Wetherspoon’s like-for-like sales have continued to be encouraging and have increased by 6.1 per cent. This is a positive start, but is for a few weeks only – and is very unlikely to continue for the rest of the year,” he writes.

“Comparisons will become more stretching – and sales, which were very strong in the summer holidays, are likely to return to more modest levels”, he adds.

“We will provide updates as we progress through the year. We currently anticipate a trading outcome for the current financial year in line with our expectations.”

It’s not the first time that Mr Martin has used company reports to rip into rip into political targets, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former French President François Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

In the past he’s also lashed out at former Chancellor George Osborne, the International Monetary Fund, the Bank of England, the Confederation of British IndustryGoldman SachsMorgan Stanley and PricewaterhouseCoopers, claiming that they were too negative about the impact of a Leave vote.

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