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JD Wetherspoon warns on profit as costs bite ahead of Brexit

JD Wetherspoon warns on profit as costs bite ahead of Brexit
FILE PHOTO: JD Wetherspoon's chair Tim Martin speaks during a "Leave Means Leave" rally in London, Britain January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson   -   Copyright  SIMON DAWSON(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – British pubs group JD Wetherspoon Plc <JDW.L> warned of lower pretax profit for the first half of its fiscal year, as it struggles with higher costs amid a slowdown in consumer spending ahead of Brexit.

British pub operators have been battling rising costs from an increase in minimum wages, higher property prices and a Brexit-spurred slide in sterling. At the same time, younger Britons are increasingly moving away from pub drinking.

JD Wetherspoon announced a pay hike for its employees in last November, while also dealing with a new sugar tax on drinks.

“Costs, as previously indicated, are considerably higher than the previous year, especially labour, which has increased by about 30 million pounds in the period,” Wetherspoon’s pro-Brexit Chief Executive Office Tim Martin said.

The company, which kept its full-year outlook unchanged, said it plans to open 5 to 10 pubs in the current financial year.

Wetherspoon, which operates more than 900 pubs in Britain and Ireland, also said like-for-like sales for 12 weeks to Jan. 20 rose by 7.2 percent, helped by strong demand during the Christmas period. (

Separately, peer Marston’s Plc <MARS.L> reported a 5.7 percent rise in comparable sales for the 16 week period to Jan. 19, on the back of strong sales over the Christmas fortnight.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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