Wetherspoon boss slams Jamie Oliver 'showboating' on soft drink tax
The chairman of pubs giant Wetherspoon has criticised TV chef Jamie Oliver's campaign for higher taxes on soft drinks.
Tim Martin said a new tax would cost pubs millions of pounds at a time when their prices were already high compared to supermarkets.
Mr Oliver has introduced a levy on sugary drinks in his restaurants and is calling on the Government to introduce a tax on fizzy drinks.
Mr Martin said: " Jamie Oliver runs restaurants which cater to an affluent clientele. He is either courting the favour of the elite or is badly out of touch with the majority of people.
"I believe that he should campaign for tax equality for pubs, restaurants and supermarkets, since pubs and restaurants pay 20% vat on food sales, compared to zero for supermarkets.
"Showboating of this kind by Jamie Oliver will close pubs."
Mr Martin pointed to the fact that Pepsi is now the company's biggest selling draught product with 580,000 drinks served in the past seven days, of which 197,000 were Diet Pepsi.
In the same period Wetherspoon's 950 pubs served almost one million sugar-free coffees and teas.
He added: "Sales of non-sugar drinks in the non-alcoholic category are increasing at a rapid rate and are in the great majority, when you take into account coffee and tea.
"Customers already pay a lot for soft drinks when they go out and we don't need another 'big brother' tax."