JD Wetherspoon ‘100% committed’ to Irish expansion

British pub operator JD Wetherspoon said its Irish bars are continuing to trade well and it remains “100%” committed to continually expanding its presence here.

Speaking on the back of an upbeat second quarter trading update, company spokesperson Eddie Gershon yesterday said the group’s five Irish pubs — four of which are in the Greater Dublin area while the other is in Cork city — are doing “very well” and are proving very popular with customers. “We’re very happy with that,” he added.

Mr Gershon added that Wetherspoon’s four new already identified sites — in Dublin, Cork, Carlow and Waterford — are in varying stages of development, with some awaiting planning permission and others having received approval. 

He gave no date as to new openings saying they are yet to be included in the group’s schedule. However, he said management still plans to open numerous new outlets in Ireland and is “100%” still looking for new site opportunities around the country.

While JD Wetherspoon doesn’t break out revenue figures for the Irish market, on a group-wide basis the business saw like-for-like sales rise by 3.3% in the second quarter of its financial year (the 12 weeks up to mid January) with total sales (including pubs open less than a year) ahead by 6.3% on a year-on-year basis. 

Since the start of its financial year, back in August, the group has opened five new pubs and has sold two. In its latest statement it said it intends to open “10 to 15” pubs in its current financial year.

Regarding its financial health, the group said it remains in “a sound financial position”. “Net debt at the end of this financial year is currently expected to be slightly above the July 26, 2015 total of £601.1m,” it added.

“Like-for-like sales have improved in the second quarter so far. However, as indicated in our November trading update, increased labour costs will be an important factor in the outcome for this financial year. Our current view is profits for this year are likely to be towards the lower end of analysts’ expectations,” Wetherspoon chairman, Tim Martin said.

That dragged on the group’s share price yesterday, which fell by nearly 10%, to around 608p.


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