Coffee and breakfast boosts pub group

JD Wetherspoon has belied much of the ailing UK pub sector by reporting record sales.

The pub group says like for like sales increased 1.2% in the year to 26 July as takings from food and coffee helped boost revenue. Pre-tax profits before exceptional items increased 13.6% to £66.2m.

Wetherspoon, which has 731 pubs across the UK, says its decision to open its pubs for breakfast has helped drive revenue. The company says it sells over 715,000 breakfasts and coffees each week, “more than most coffee shop chains”, it claims.

It adds that its business proposition has helped weather the current recession. “As in the recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s, the company has traded well by concentrating on the key ingredients of standards, service, staff training and incentives,” it says.

Wetherspoon’s performance comes amid desperate times for much of the on-trade. The British Beer and Pub Association recently said that pub closures have increased to a record of 36 a week  as deep discounting by supermarkets leads to more drinking at home.

Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoon, says the increase in off-trade sales combined with a decrease in sales volumes in pubs has increased levels of ‘unsupervised’ drinking, adding that this has “contributed to many pubs’ closure, at the same time exacerbating the problem of binge-drinking”.

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