Wetherspoon chair lashes out at Brexit doubters as sales rise

Pubs founder Tim Martin rounded on organisations including the CBI. Picture: Contributed
Pubs founder Tim Martin rounded on organisations including the CBI. Picture: Contributed
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The Brexit-backing founder and chairman of pubs giant JD Wetherspoon has hit out at the Chancellor, the Bank of England and a host of other organisations, blaming them for a potential slowdown following last month’s historic vote.

Tim Martin, who was one of the most prominent business voices backing a split from Brussels, called into question their honesty and economic judgment during the referendum campaign, also singling out the CBI, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and PwC, who he claims were too negative about the impact of a Leave vote.

Commenting in a trading statement from the firm yesterday, Martin said: “In my opinion, the above individuals and organisations are either dishonest or they have a poor understanding of economics, since democracy and prosperity are closely linked and the EU is clearly undemocratic.

“By voting to restore democracy in the UK, I believe the UK’s economic prospects will improve, although it is quite possible that the unprecedented and irresponsible doom-mongering, outlined above, may lead to some kind of slowdown.”

He also ripped into the outgoing prime minister, adding: “Osborne’s stance was supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, who also forecast an increased likelihood of war and genocide.”

The Wetherspoon trading update revealed that like-for-like sales rose 4 per cent in the final quarter and increased 3.4 per cent over the year.

Martin, who founded the business in the late 1970s with a single outlet, toured 100 of the company’s pubs in a bid to convince customers that the UK would be better off outside the EU. To tie in with the vote, the firm printed 280,000 copies of its Wetherspoon News magazine featuring an EU special, as well as 500,000 copies of an EU magazine.

Martin added: “In spite of the dire warnings above, Wetherspoon trade strengthened slightly in recent weeks and we consequently anticipate a modestly improved outcome for this financial year. Caution should be exercised in extrapolating current levels of sales growth for future years.”

Shore Capital analyst Greg Johnson said: “Although there was no implicit comment in the statement with regards to the impact of Brexit on current trading the strong life-for-like sales performance for the 11 weeks is encouraging, implying little drag.” The brokerage has a “hold” stance on the shares.