JD Wetherspoon has continued its strong performance by posting pre-tax profits of £36 million.
The pub chain, one of the biggest in the UK, saw pre-tax profits grow by 3.2 per cent in the first half of its financial year and marked a significant improvement on the previous year. 2013 saw Wetherspoons record a profit fall of 2.7 per cent to £34.8 million, the company blamed this drop on higher taxes and increased labour costs. However, it was confident that the coming year will prove much more fruitful.
Wetherspoons is constantly looking to expand its operations and is aiming to open another 40 to 50 new pubs in the UK over 2014. Included in this figure are the company's first outlets in the Republic of Ireland which are expected to be opened over the coming months. However, not all of its pubs have been met with a warm reception.
In January, the pub chain was criticised for opening the first motorway establishment. The Hope and Champion at junction two of the M40 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, acts as a restaurant but also serves alcohol from 09:00 GMT. It has been criticised by road safety charity Brake which described the pub as "putting temptation in front of drivers" and has been urged to make drink-drive warnings "extra clear".
While it continues to open new pubs, chairman Tim Martin believes that Wetherspoons is still under threat from cheap alcohol in supermarkets. He said: "Supermarkets pay no VAT in respect of their food sales, whereas pubs pay 20 per cent, enabling supermarkets to subsidise their alcoholic drinks prices."
Despite the hike in pre-tax profits JD Wetherspoon's share price was down 0.36 per cent at 08:27 GMT on Friday (March 14th). The company is expecting this to improve over the coming months as it opens more establishments.
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