JD Wetherspoon pub chain is still facing the burn of the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased costs of drink, food and energy even though the sales have lately picked up momentum and reached nearly to the pre-pandemic levels. It is learned the sales in the first half of March were 2.6 percent less than that of 2019. Patrons are returning with the easing of the pandemic restrictions.
The budget group expects to hold the enhanced costs below the inflation level, which is at a 30-year high in the United Kingdom to 5.5 percent. Experts believe the inflation may rise as high as 8 percent in April. Some even argue that inflation may hit double digits due to the Russia-Ukraine ongoing war.
JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said the company is suffering from increased input costs from energy, drink and food due to the post-COVID period, but it will be less than the inflation level.
Meanwhile, curbing the rising cost of living is the primary responsibility for the Bank of England and this is the reason it has lately increased the interest rates to 0.75 percent.
Martin added the company has benefited from its freehold pubs as the mortgage rates are fixed and to continue in the same way for another decade. JD Wetherspoon has more than 800 freehold pubs and its most leasehold pubs witnessed fixed rates in rent reviews and it is below the current inflation level.
He further said the company is now seeing a return following the lift of the last restrictions from the country. The restrictions were imposed during Christmas and New Year due to the spread of the new COVID variant Omicron.
The sales in the first half of March were just 2.6 percent below the 2019 level. The past two years were traumatic for both people and places due to restrictions and lockdowns. The trading patterns have turned up just recently.
It is learned the group has not been affected anytime in the last two years by labor shortages. Moreover, no supply chain disputes or issues have been witnessed in the period that would have affected the business.
Martin said if the restrictions could be avoided, the London-based business can have a strong future. Its current market value is over 1 billion pounds and has about 900 pubs in the country. In 2015, it had a total of 915 pubs.
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown period have hit some sectors severely and include travel, leisure, hospitality and more.