Wetherspoons losses: what is the share price after biggest loss on record and will it affect Sheffield pubs?

Pubs giant JD Wetherspoon has recorded its biggest loss on record after being battered by lockdown restrictions, but its outspoken founder Tim Martin remains upbeat.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 12:20 pm
Updated Friday, 1st October 2021, 12:34 pm

The Wetherspoons chain, which is one of the UK’s biggest hospitality businesses with hundreds of pubs, has only seen losses in three of its 37 years - in 1984, 2020 and 2021.

But the 12 months to July 25 were its worst to date, sinking to a pre-tax loss of £154.7 million, compared with a deficit of £34.1m a year earlier. Sales fell from £1.26 billion to £772.6m.

What is the Wetherspoons share price now?

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Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin (right) has been a vocal critic of Boris Johnson's (left) government and blames record losses on lockdown restrictions. Photo by: Henry Nicholls WPA Pool/Getty Images

The JD Wetherspoon (JDW) share price fell 1.4% to £10.28 as it reported the record annual loss.

Tim Martin, the group’s vocal founder and chairman, said he remained hopeful for the future and customers were starting to return since lockdown restrictions eased during the summer.

However, filling jobs was becoming difficult in some areas - particularly "staycation" locations in different parts of the country.

He also attacked the UK government for its handling of the sector during the pandemic and claimed the use of lockdown restrictions were "a threat to civil society and democracy".

Hospitality has been one of the hardest-hit sectors from the pandemic, facing lengthy closures and rule changes, although they have also been entitled to government support in furlough scheme payments, VAT holidays and local authority grants. They are now facing difficulties with supply chain shortages.

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What is happening to Wetherspoons sales after lockdown?

Over the past nine weeks, Wetherspoon’s sales were just 8.7 per cent below the levels in the same period pre-pandemic. This has improved further still, with sales down just 6.4 per cent in the past four weeks.

JD Wetherspoon announced back in July that it would have to increase the prices of its meals due to a reduction in the VAT on food and non alcoholic drinks sold in pubs and restaurants getting phased out.

A big factor behind reduced sales is the fact that airport pubs remain subdued - down 47.3 per cent - pushing the overall figures lower as a result.

Will Wetherspoons losses affect Sheffield pubs?

Martin said: "During the pandemic, the pressure on pub managers and staff has been particularly acute, with a number of nationwide and regional pub closures and reopenings, often with very little warning, each of which resulted in different regulations.

"In spite of these obstacles, Wetherspoon is cautiously optimistic about the outcome for the financial year, on the basis that there is no further resort to lockdowns or onerous restrictions."

There is no planned impact to Sheffield Wetherspoons pubs – with popular locations including Sheffield Water Works Company, The Bankers Draft, The Benjamin Huntsman, The Sheaf Island, and The Francis Newton.

In fact, the pubs chain is opening a new location in the former Damon’s Restaurant building – the distinctive, round building close to Crystal Peaks Shopping Centre.

Development was planned to start on August 2, and the planned opening date for the venue – which is to be named The Scarsdale Hundred – is November 16.