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Fri 13th Sep 2019 - Wetherspoon reports like-for-like sales up 6.8% in full year
Wetherspoon reports like-for-like sales up 6.8% in full year: JD Wetherspoon has reported sales rose 7.4% to £1,818.8m in the 52 weeks ended 28 July. Profit before tax was down 4.5% to £102.5m. After exceptional items, profit rose 7.2% to £95.4m. Like-for-like sales were up 6.8% – in the most recent six weeks they were up 5.9%. Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoon, said: “Journalists regularly ask Wetherspoon for comments on Brexit – although some publications begrudge our few paragraphs on the subject in this section. The UK is clearly in political deadlock, parliament having refused to carry out the pre-referendum promise in the leaflet sent to every household which said ‘The Government will implement what you decide’. Democratic power in the UK in the last 30 years has been diluted by a political faction in parliament, the media and boardrooms, which has a quasi-religious belief in the undemocratic EU – with its unelected presidents, MEPs who cannot instigate legislation and unaccountable court. Voters resent this loss of power – and distrust of politicians and the ‘elite’ is the result. In recent weeks, the 21 ‘Tory rebels’ (over half Oxbridge), who helped to block ‘no-deal’ were joined by 25 bishops (two-thirds Oxbridge), the latter group asserting, contrary, many of us believe, to common sense, that no-deal will be disadvantageous to the poor. As another straw in the wind, former Supreme Court judge and Reith lecturer Lord Sumption described Brexit supporters as ‘grim fanatics’. John Bercow, Emily Thornberry, Dominic Grieve, Keir Starmer, Jo Johnson, Philip Hammond, David Gauke, David Lidington, Hilary Benn, Rory Stewart and many other pro-EU Oxbridge MPs have played a leading role in frustrating the referendum result, by enmeshing parliament in a legal and administrative spider’s web. The economic judgement of this faction, led in the past by the likes of Michael Heseltine, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair, the CBI and the Financial Times, has been extremely poor. It advocated joining the disastrous predecessor of the euro, the exchange rate mechanism, the euro itself, and incorrectly forecast an immediate recession in the event of a Leave vote in the referendum. Author and athlete Matthew Syed has recently illustrated how a lack of diversity among elites leads to poor decisions. Investment guru Warren Buffett has pointed out that forecasts tell you a lot about the forecaster – but nothing about the future. The faction’s forecast today is that leaving the EU without a deal will be a ‘cliff-edge’, a ‘catastrophe’ or a ‘disaster’. Remainer MPs’ main argument – having consistently voted against the only deal on offer – to justify their attempts to scupper Brexit, is that costs for consumers and businesses will axiomatically increase in the event of ‘no deal’. However, leaving without a deal avoids a legal liability to pay £39 billion, allows the UK to eliminate protectionist import taxes (tariffs) on over 12,000 non-EU products, (including rice, oranges, bananas, Antipodean wine, children’s clothes and car parts etc) and results in resumption of the control of fishing waters. Above all, no-deal increases UK democracy – the most powerful economic stimulant. It is an absurdity to argue that a reduction in UK input costs, combined with increased democracy, will have a harmful effect on the economy – just as it would be absurd for a business to adopt this argument if its own costs were reduced. Free trade, which the ending of tariffs implies, never made any country poorer, as former Australian High Commissioner, Alexander Downer, recently said. Elite Remainers are ignoring the ‘big picture’, regarding lower input costs and more democracy, and are mistakenly concentrating on assumed short-term problems, such as potential delays at Channel ports – which are easier to extrapolate on their computer models. Despite continuing political problems, stemming from the transfer of democratic power to a technocratic elite, Wetherspoon continues to perform well. Like-for-like sales for the six weeks to 8 September 2019 were up 5.9%. We currently anticipate a reasonable outcome (pre IFRS16) for the current financial year, subject to our future sales performance.” The company opened five pubs during the year, with nine sold or closed, resulting in a trading estate of 879 pubs at the financial year end. The average development cost for a new pub (excluding the cost of freeholds) was £2.6m, compared with £2.8m a year ago. The full-year depreciation charge was £81.8m (2018: £79.3m). It intends to open ten to 15 pubs in the year ending July 2020.

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