Belfast Telegraph

Pub sales will soar on October 31 in no-deal Brexit, says Wetherspoon boss

Chairman Tim Martin said there will be ‘break-dancing in the streets’ if the UK leaves the EU next month, with or without a deal.

JD Wetherspoon reported falling annual profits in the face of higher costs, but cheered a hike in sales as pub-goers shrugged off Brexit uncertainty (PA)
JD Wetherspoon reported falling annual profits in the face of higher costs, but cheered a hike in sales as pub-goers shrugged off Brexit uncertainty (PA)

By Holly Williams, PA Deputy City Editor

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has said partying pub-goers will send bar sales soaring on October 31 if the UK leaves the EU – with or without a deal.

The group’s chairman and founder – a prominent and outspoken Brexit campaigner – brushed aside fears over plunging consumer spending in the event of a no-deal Brexit and said Britons would instead come flocking to his pubs to celebrate.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “I think sales will jump dramatically in our pubs if we leave the EU – even if we leave the EU without a deal on October 31.

“People will be so pleased that we’ve left and I think even people who don’t want to leave will think ‘thank god we’ve left and can talk about something else’.”

People will be break-dancing in the streets Tim Martin, Wetherspoon chairman

The comments come as Wetherspoon unveiled annual results that show pub sales holding up well in the face of Brexit uncertainty, which is hitting other consumer-driven areas such as the housing market and demand for “big ticket” items.

Like-for-like sales rose 6.8% over the year to July 28 and Wetherspoon said trading had held up since then.

Comparable sales rose 5.9% in the six weeks to September 8.

But rising costs weighed on full-year underlying profits, which fell 4.5% to £102.5 million.

Mr Martin insisted there would be no hit to sales if the UK quit the EU without a deal on October 31, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed.

He said: “People will be break-dancing in the streets.”

He added: “It will make the Queen’s Jubilee in 1977 look like a vicar’s tea party.”

In the group’s annual results, Mr Martin hit out at the “elite Remainers” for ignoring the long-term benefits of Brexit.

Wetherspoon slashed 20p off the cost of a pint of beer last week in nearly 700 of its pubs, calling it an example of how leaving the customs union with the EU can reduce prices.

Mr Martin said leaving the customs union on October 31 would allow the Government to end “protectionist tariffs”, which he maintained would reduce prices in pubs and supermarkets.

It was the latest Brexit-related move by Wetherspoon, which has shown its commitment to leaving the EU by selling more English and Australian wines over European brands.

In its results, Mr Martin said: “Elite Remainers are ignoring the ‘big picture’, regarding lower input costs and more democracy, and are mistakenly concentrating on assumed short-term problems, such as potential delays at Channel ports – which are easier to extrapolate on their computer models.”

The group – which has more than 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland – saw annual profits hampered by property costs, as well as increased wage bills and a programme to refurbish and open new pubs.

On a statutory basis, pre-tax profits lifted 7.2% to £95.4 million.

Figures showed of the revenues hike, food sales surged 8.3% and bar sales lifted 5.8%.

Fruit machine and slot sales rose by 10.3%, while hotel room sales increased 3.9%.

PA

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