JD Wetherspoon sees like-for-like sales increase by 6.5%
JD Wetherspoon saw like-for-like sales increase by 6.5% in the year to 28 July 2019, with revenue reaching £1.8b.
However, profits before tax and exceptional costs fell slightly to £102m, compared to £107.2m the previous year.
The pub giant opened five sites during the year and closed or sold nine, leaving it with an estate of 879. It has said it intends to open a further 10-15 pubs in the year to July 2020.
Chairman Tim Martin said the years of rapid expansion for the group had ended with previous estimates of the estate reaching 1,500 being "possibly a bit optimistic".
The group now has 50 pubs with hotel rooms and plans to open an 89-bedroom site in Dublin in June 2020.
However, it is not expecting rooms to become "a major part of the business", with Martin having said: "I do not think we will be the Hilton hotels of the pub world".
The year had seen a 3.9% like-for-like increase in hotel revenue, compared to 5.8% for bar sales and 8.3% in food.
The pub chief, who attributed continuing success to long-serving teams, coffee and breakfasts among other factors, added: "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 for the current financial year, subject to our future sales performance."
The group also saw a 10.3% increase in revenue from fruit machines, which had been declining steadily over the last decade, something Martin said may have been impacted by the clampdown on fixed-odds betting terminals.
In a press conference pro-Brexit Martin stressed his support for a no-deal Brexit, stating that it would provide an opportunity to eliminate import tariffs and adopt a free trade approach.
This, he said, would lower the prices of goods such as rice, citrus fruits and wine from New Zealand and Australia. The pub boss has previously sought to replace some EU-imported products – including Jägermeister – with non-EU alternatives an exercise he said had been successful but that was not at this point being extended.
Martin added that he would be in favour of a "liberal approach" to immigration", but added "I just think it should be controlled by our own government".