Little to cheer about as JD Wetherspoon poised to report losses
The group, which has hundreds of pubs across the UK and Ireland, suffered badly as its watering holes were forced to shut for weeks on end during lockdown while the firm had to spend millions on hygiene and physical distancing measures when they reopened.
It now faces further pain amid Scotland’s enforced shutdown of swathes of the hospitality sector – a move that could be replicated in parts of England. North of the Border, the chain’s vast portfolio includes the Caley Picture House in Edinburgh and Dunfermline’s Guildhall & Linen Exchange.
Commenting ahead of Wetherspoon’s full-year results, due this week, Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “After years of steady growth, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on Wetherspoon’s business model.
“Its pubs were forced to shut for three months and the company spent £15 million on hygiene and social distancing measures when they reopened.
“Recouping those costs and the loss of business won’t be easy, given the slow economic recovery and the earlier closing times the chain has now to adhere to.
“Maintaining high numbers of customers is key for the company given that many of its venues are large and to keep costs low, it needs to sell high volumes.
“The VAT cut to 5 per cent may also help the chain sustain its lower prices and innovative outdoor seating areas should help to attract the trade the company desperately needs to sustain it through the winter.”
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