J D Wetherspoon has published its preliminary results for the 26 weeks ended 27 January 2019, with profit before tax and exceptional items falling nearly 19%.
Like-for-like sales, however, increased 6.3% and revenue was also up by 7.1% to £889.6m, but operating profit decreased by 14.2% to £63.5m.
Lower profit in the period is attributed to cost increases in areas including labour (+£33.0m), repairs (+£3.7m), utilities (+£2.5m),
interest (+£3.3m) and depreciation (+£2.4m).
Earnings per share, including shares held in trust by the employee share scheme, and before exceptional items, decreased by 18.2% to 37.4p.
The chairman’s statement included property details during the period, which saw two new pubs open and six close, bringing the number open at the period end to 879.
Following a review of the estate, in recent years, the company placed around 100 pubs on the market, most of which have now been sold.
Ten years ago the freehold/leasehold split was 41.7/58.3% and at the half year end it was 60.2/39.8%.
The chairman’s statement also said:
“Pubs and restaurants pay proportionally far higher levels of UK tax than do supermarkets.
“The main disparity relates to VAT, since supermarkets pay no VAT in respect of their food sales, whereas pubs pay 20%, enabling supermarkets to subsidise their alcoholic drinks prices.
“Pubs also pay approximately 18p per pint in respect of business rates, while supermarkets pay less than 2p per pint.
“In addition, the government has, in recent years, introduced both a ‘late-night levy’ and additional fruit/slot machine taxes, further reducing the competitive position of pubs in relation to supermarkets.
“The tax disparity with supermarkets is unfair.
“Pubs create significantly more jobs and more taxes per pint or per meal than do supermarkets and it does not make social or economic sense for the UK tax régime to favour supermarkets.
“We acknowledge the need for companies to pay a reasonable level of tax, but hope that legislators will make prompt progress in creating a level playing field for all businesses which sell similar products.”