Belfast Telegraph

Pub chain's sales enjoy Jubilee lift

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has revealed significantly improved sales figures after benefiting from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Euro 2012.

The group, whose 850 pubs are mainly in town centres, including Belfast, Londonderry, Newtownards and Enniskillen, said the special events had a positive impact on footfall as like-for-like sales rose 6.1% in the 11 weeks to July 8, compared to a 2% rise in the previous quarter.

Wetherspoon expects a "reasonable outcome" for the financial year ending this month but said the main challenges facing the group were continuing cost pressures resulting from government legislation.

The chain has already warned it will slow the pace of new pub openings in the next year to between 20 and 30 sites as it grapples with a £50m increase in its annual tax bill, including rises in excise duty.

The chain's chairman Tim Martin said he was hopeful that people may be starting to return to pubs following the smoking ban.

He said: "Our sales have been growing at about 2% over recent years. The industry may be starting to see a bit of a rebound after the smoking ban."