Wetherspoons posts strong Christmas sales riseWednesday 22 January 2014 08.42
British pub chain JD Wetherspoon said preparations for expansion would keep margins under pressure this year as it reported accelerating sales growth in its second quarter.
The firm, which has grown to over 880 pubs, said that sales at pubs open over a year rose 6.7% in the first 12 weeks of its second quarter to January 19, up from a 3.7% first-quarter rise.
Total sales including new pubs rose 10.6%.
The firm, which opened its first motorway services pub this week in England, also plans to open its first pubs in Ireland later this year.
The group has said it is planning to open up to 30 pubs in Ireland in the long term. It is expected to open in its first Irish pub in Blackrock in Dublin by April.
Wetherspoon said its operating margin had fallen 20 basis points to 8.1% in the period, due to investment in areas such as IT, training and staff as it extends its food offering and prepares to open more pubs.
Operating margin for the full-year was now expected to be between 8.1-8.3%, the firm said, having previously guided to 8.3%. The margin was 8.7 percent in 2012-13.
In November Wetherspoon increased its guidance for new pub openings for the 2013-14 financial year from 30 to between 40 and 50 due to a number of recent acquisitions.