Whither Wetherspoons?

Imagine. You're the boss of a pub chain. Recent times have seen a ragged economy, heavy snowfall and the odd riot. Your competitors seem to be surviving via a heady mix of asset disposal and snake-oil. But you've opened another fifty pubs in the year just gone. And like-for-like sales increased overall, even for the bar. Your pre-tax profits fell back to 2009 levels but it's still your second highest pre-tax profit ever. Made off total sales in excess of a billion pounds.

Do you sleep soundly in your bed? Safe in the knowledge that, in the face of sustained economic uncertainty, you're posting good figures, creating jobs and raising a million quid for charity in the process?

Well, if you're name's Tim Martin you'd be railing about taxation instead.

"The biggest danger to the pub industry is the tax disparity between supermarkets and pubs", said the J D Wetherspoons chairman at the weekend release of the chain's preliminary full-year results. Calling this a "serious and unsustainable competitive advantage" he criticised high excise rates (60% of Wetherspoon's tax bill being excise-related) and pointed to how VAT reductions in France and Ireland  have generated jobs and taxes.

And so that's another reason why I like Tim Martin. Rather than sitting back and taking the plaudits for keeping Spoons on a more-than-even keel in these trying times, he's still pushing for equitable treatment of the on-trade. Of all the chains, I believe Wetherspoons stands to benefit the most from these straitened times with their drinks & meals promotions. I get the feeling that they could do so much more; more bars, more offers, more jobs created... and that's just what Tim Martin wants too, if he didn't have one arm tied behind his back by onerous taxation.

I don't expect Punch to be so rambunctious when their results are announced next month.

Over at The Motley Fool, Tony Luckett notes that "pubs are pubs, not property companies, and should be run as such". Tim Martin seems to be proof positive of that approach. More power to his elbow.


  1. What I like about Tim is that he makes proposals that will affect all players in the on trade evenly, he's not looking for special treatment, nor does he bad-mouth competitors in the on trade letting their own brand speak for itself. He's also frank and open with his opinions, which I appreciate even if I don't always agree with what he has to say, though oft-times I do.

  2. that all sounds great!

    problem is every time I give them a chance to win me over I end up hating them even more. I really want to like Wetherspoons but I always have a bad experience and walk out thinking "what a shit hole", they need to learn to cook food properly" and "why don't they ever have any beer I want to drink(and in good condition)"

  3. Sign outside my local spoons shows 2 popular brands of beer, the prices and the tagline "why pay more?"

    Inside the gaff is smart & service friendly & quick.

    The pub is busy unlike the empty nearby boozers.