Wetherspoon ramps up pub opening programme

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Pub chain JD Wetherspoon today said it was speeding up its expansion plans as it reported a rise in sales for the first three months of its financial year.

The group, which has more than 880 pubs across the UK, expects to open between 40 and 50 more in the year to July, up from an earlier target of about 30.

Wetherspoon opened eight venues in the three months to 27 October, helping to lift total sales during the period by 7.6 per cent. Like-for-like sales at pubs that were open for more than a year were up 3.7 per cent.

Although the firm said it remained confident of a “reasonable outcome” for the current year, it repeated its attack on “tax breaks” for supermarkets.

“Since supermarkets pay almost no VAT in respect of food sales, whereas pubs pay 20 per cent, supermarkets are able to subsidise their drinks’ prices to the detriment of pubs, around 10,000 of which have closed in the last decade,” Wetherspoon said.

“It does not make economic or social sense for the government to favour powerful supermarkets with what amounts to a ‘tax break’, especially since pubs generate so many more jobs, and so much more tax, per pint or meal, than supermarkets.”