Breaking COVID19

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has reported a record annual loss after Covid lockdowns saw its pubs shut for 19 weeks

It posted a £154.7m loss as sales fell sharply in the year to 25th July, after a £34.1m loss a year earlier.
Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin criticised the “use of lockdowns and draconian restrictions”.
Although the firm suggested that there were signs of recovery since restrictions eased, it is struggling to recruit staff.
The chain said that like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of new pub openings, were just 8.7% lower in the last nine weeks than in the same period before the pandemic.
Sales at its airport sites though, have struggled, it said.
Overall, revenues generated through pints, meals and soft drinks fell by 38.8% from a year earlier to £772.6m.
But in an update to investors, Mr Martin said that he felt hopeful for the future.
“Pubs have been at the forefront of business closures during the pandemic, at great cost to the industry – but at even greater cost to the Treasury.
“In spite of these obstacles, Wetherspoon is cautiously optimistic about the outcome for the financial year, on the basis that there is no further resort to lockdowns”.
As Covid-related restrictions have eased, the firm has been looking to fill vacancies for pub staff and managers but have been hampered by Brexit.
It said overall it had received a “reasonable” number of applications for jobs.
But in some areas of the country, “especially ‘staycation’ areas in the West Country and elsewhere”, it has been harder to draw people in, the company said.
The wider hospitality industry has been struggling with recruitment in recent months, following the pandemic and Brexit.