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Tue 30th Mar 2021 - JD Wetherspoon to invest £145m in new pubs and upgrades, creating 2,000 jobs
JD Wetherspoon to invest £145m in new pubs and upgrades, creating 2,000 jobs: JD Wetherspoon is set to invest an initial £145m developing new pubs and upgrading existing pubs – creating 2,000 jobs in the process. The company is keen to start the development project within weeks of its pubs reopening fully. It has a pipeline of 75 projects – 18 of which are new pubs and 57 significant extensions and upgrades to its existing 871 pubs. The first tranche of new pubs and extensions will be located in towns and cities including Leeds, Birmingham, Newport Pagnell, Heswall, Sheffield, Felixstowe, Dublin, Haverfordwest, Carmarthen and Glasgow. Once the 75 projects in the pipeline are completed, Wetherspoon anticipates investing £750m to open 15 new pubs and enlarging 50 existing pubs each year for ten years. This ten-year pub project will result in 20,000 new jobs. Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said: “Our immediate investment will provide work for architects, contractors and builders as well as result in 2,000 new jobs for staff in our pubs. We are geared up to start on the first projects within a few months. We are also committed to our long-term investment and job creation programme over the next decade. However, the investment is conditional on the UK opening back up again on a long-term basis, with no further lockdowns or the constant changing of rules.”

AG Barr sees revenue and profit fall in rollercoaster year: AG Barr, which produces and markets brands such as Irn-Bru, Rubicon and Funkin, saw profits and revenue fell in 2020 relative to the previous year, following a volatile and unpredictable year. Revenue stood at £227m for the year ending 24 January 2021, down 11% from 2020, where revenue stood at £255.7m. Profit before tax also fell, from £37.4m to £32.8m, a drop of 12.3%. However, the business is optimistic about its 2022 financial year and plans to resume paying a divided at some point this financial year. Chief executive Roger White said AG Barr had delivered resilience results despite a difficult year. He said: “Across the year, we continued to focus on our key strategic initiatives. We have significantly progressed our multi-beverage strategy, extended our reach into new channels and accelerated our roadmap towards net zero, which we aim to deliver by 2040. We closed the year in strong financial health, with our brands and business poised for growth on a like for like basis, and with the clear intention to recommence dividend payments in 2021. While there now appears to be a route out of lockdown, the immediate future remains uncertain. Notwithstanding this current backdrop, our strategy for the year ahead is to support our core growth initiatives with significant investment.” The covid-19 pandemic started to impact the business at the end of March 2020, when the UK entered its first national lockdown. AG Barr’s “out of home” consumption of soft drinks was affected, and as a result revenue fell 9.1% in the first quarter. The business then benefitted from favourable weather during the summer months, and sales began to rise, particularly in its ‘on the go’ consumption segment. In the second quarter, revenue declined 6.4%, meaning revenue for the first half was down 7.6%. More coronavirus restrictions hit the business hard, and revenue fell again in the second half, down 14.6%. 

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