JD Wetherspoon posts 4.1% pre-tax profit rise

<p>JD Wetherspoon announced a nine per cent increase in takings to £744.4 million.</p>

JD Wetherspoon has posted a strong performance for the first half of its financial year.

The pub chain announced a nine per cent increase to £744.4 million in takings for the six months to January 25th. This culminated in a 4.1 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £37.5 million and has allowed the company to continue its expansion plans. The company currently has over 920 outlets across the UK with more expected.

In the coming months, Wetherspoons is set to open a further 15 pubs in various towns and cities around the country. A main focus of this latest batch of pub openings is around major transport hubs with The North Western outlet launching at Liverpool Lime Street station in July as well as The Windmill at Stansted Airport in March.

Despite the positive results, Wetherspoons is still facing stiff competition from supermarkets. Chairman Tim Martin explained that pubs have to constantly try to fend off the major retailers which provide a different option for consumers. However, Wetherspoons' food sales grew by 10.1 per cent highlighting the positive performance of its food and drinks market.

Mr Martin added: "The first half of the financial year resulted in a reasonable sales performance and free cash flow, although our profit was under pressure from areas which included increased competition from supermarkets and increased pay and bonuses for pub staff."

Taking on the coffee market

One of the main campaigns for Wetherspoons is taking on the UK's coffee market. Mr Martin explained that he wants the company to take on food outlets such as Pret A Manger as it looks for new sources of growth.

The Wetherspoons founder wants the company to treble its coffee sales and breakfasts over the coming 18 months as it invests further in its day market. The pub chain already serves 50 million coffees and teas and around 24 million breakfasts every year but wants to increase this number by reducing prices.

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