JD Wetherspoon has revealed that pre-tax profits increased by 20.6% in the 26 weeks to 28 January 2018, but warned that slower sales growth is expected.
Revenue was up 3.6% to £830.4m in the period with like-for-like sales up 6.1%.
But in the six weeks to 11 March 2018, like-for-like sales growth fell to 3.8% and the company has said it expects it to fall further in the next six months.
Tim Martin, chairman of J D Wetherspoon, said: “In the six weeks to 11 March 2018, like-for-like sales increased by 3.8% and total sales increased by 2.6%.
“The company anticipates higher costs in the second half of the financial year, in areas including pay, taxes and utilities. In view of these additional costs, and our expectation that growth in like-for-like sales will be lower in the next six months, the company remains cautious about the second half of the year.
“Nevertheless, as a result of slightly better than expected year-to-date sales, we currently anticipate an unchanged trading outcome for the current financial year.”
Martin has also today repeated predictions that Brexit will create a more competitive marketplace, dismissing forecasts of food price increases.
He said: “The EU is a protectionist organisation which imposes high taxes on food, clothing, wine and thousands of other items from non-EU countries – which comprise around 93% of the world’s population. Like Monty Python’s Dennis Moore, the EU ‘steals from the poor and gives to the rich’.
“In fact, MPs have the power to eliminate these import taxes in March 2019, thereby reducing prices for the public, just as their predecessors achieved the same objective by repealing the Corn Laws almost two centuries ago.”
He added: “Provided that the UK parliament votes to eliminate tariffs, EU producers will, in any event, be faced with a far more competitive UK market – since New Zealand wine producers, for example, will be able to compete on an equal, import tax-free basis, for the first time. So, the antagonistic approach of EU negotiators, which risks alienating UK consumers, is extremely unhelpful to businesses within their own bloc.
“Most economists who criticise Brexit use hypothetical arguments, but, in the real world, the UK can eliminate import taxes, improving living standards and simplifying the Byzantine tax system – both of these factors will improve the outlook for consumers and businesses in the UK.”