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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 13th Dec 2021 - Tim Martin – country ‘appears to be heading towards lockdown by stealth’
Tim Martin says country ‘appears to be heading towards lockdown by stealth’ as JD Wetherspoon warns new restrictions will hit sales: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has said the country “appears to be heading towards a lockdown by stealth” as the company warned uncertainty over covid-19 and the government’s new restrictions will hit its sales. In a trading update, Wetherspoon said it may be “loss-making or marginally profitable” in the first half of its financial year, which runs from late July to late January 2022. The company said the restrictions announced last week will hit the hospitality sector, making it hard to predict sales and profits, with some customers, especially older patrons, “understandably cautious”. Wetherspoon stated: “Last week, the government announced the implementation of ‘Plan B’, which involves additional restrictions, including advice to work from home. Many hospitality companies, trade organisations and economists have highlighted the negative implications for pubs and restaurants. The uncertainty, and the introduction of radical changes of direction by the government, make predictions for sales and profits hazardous.” Martin said: “As previously reported, there have been no outbreaks, as defined by the health authorities, of covid-19 among customers in Wetherspoon pubs. In spite of reports of labour shortages and supply difficulties, Wetherspoon pubs, with few exceptions, are fully stocked and fully staffed. However, the repeated warnings and calls for restrictions, mainly from SAGE members and academics, combined with arbitrary changes of direction from the government, invariably at short notice, affect customer sentiment and trade. In effect, the country appears to be heading towards a lockdown by stealth. In spite of these problems, booster vaccinations and better weather in the spring are likely to have a positive impact in the coming months. The company will continue to concentrate on providing high standards of service, reasonable prices and regular, small upgrades to the business.”

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