JD WETHERSPOON chairman, Tim Martin, has said he expects the pub group to “break even” in the current financial year, and is “cautiously optimistic” about a return to profitability during 2023.
In the company’s most recent trading update, Martin said sales had improved since COVID restrictions ended. However, rising costs and ongoing repairs were said to be putting further pressure on profits.
For the 13 weeks to 24th April, the company’s like-for-like sales were down 4% when compared to the same period in 2019. Year-to-date sales were down 6.2%.
However, towards the end of this period things had improved slightly. In the three weeks to 13th March sales were down 2.6% on the 2019 figure, improving to -1.6% in the final six weeks of the period.
“Since COVID restrictions ended, sales have improved, as previously reported,” said Martin. “As many hospitality companies have indicated, there is considerable pressure on costs, especially in respect of labour, food and energy. Repairs are also running at a higher rate than before the pandemic.
“The company anticipates a continuing slow improvement in sales, in the absence of further restrictions, and anticipates a ‘break-even’ outcome for profits in the current financial year.
“Since 13th March, the company has returned to profitability and to a positive cash flow, and is cautiously optimistic about the prospect of a return to relative normality in FY23.”