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16th Oct 2020

JD Wetherspoon reports first losses since 1984

Wil Jones

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has reported its first-ever pre-tax loss since 1984

Due to a sharp drop in sales, the Wetherspoon chain revealed a  £105.4m loss in the year to July 26th.

In 2019, they reported a pre-tax profit of £95.4m – which shows the drastic effects coronavirus and lockdown have had on the pub trade.

Wetherspoon also revealed that sales had dropped by 30.6% to £1.2bn.

The report covers the first few weeks after pubs were allowed to reopen on July 4th.

The company said that like-for-like sales were now 15% lower compared to 2019, saying that there were “strong sales in the first few weeks, followed by a marked slowdown since the introduction of a curfew and other regulations.”

861 of Weatherspoons pubs have now reopened.

The hospitality industry is due to come under even more pressure as lockdown restrictions tighten.

London and Essex will enter Tier 2 restrictions on Saturday, and Liverpool is already under Tier 3. Lancashire is also due to move into Tier 3.

Under Tier 2 restrictions, people cannot socialise inside with people outside their support bubble, meaning that they cannot meet people inside a pub or restaurant who they do not live with, or is in their bubble. The rule of six remains for pub or restaurant gardens.

In Tier 3, pubs and bars can only stay open as restaurants, and only serving alcohol as part of a substantial meal.

Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin called the new system “Confusing”.

“There’s massive confusion in the UK now because you’ve got the ‘rule of six’, Tier 2, Tier 3 – everyone’s confused,” Martin told the BBC’s Today programme

“I think you should concentrate on the basics which is social distancing. If you don’t get too close to someone you won’t get infected, that works better.”

JD Wetherspoon employs 41,000 staff.

On Friday, rival pub chain Marston’s confirmed that 108 staff had been made redundant from their head office.