Tim Martin, JD Wetherspoon’s founder and chairman, has stated that bosses of the European Union should take a “wise-up pill” over Brexit. They warned that the chain could have to switch to suppliers from outside the bloc.A vocal supporter of Brexit, Martin, stated that shifting to non-EU suppliers would not be detrimental to the operations of the company in the United Kingdom or to the British economy as firms will be able to switch to suppliers “representing the 93% of the world’s population which is not in the EU”.
However, Martin said that leaving European suppliers in favour of their counterparts from outside the bloc would become “highly damaging to the economy of the EU,” who still holds 30% of Wetherspoon.
He stated that the attitude of the “unelected oligarchs” with whom Britain has to negotiate its departure from the European Union was encouraging companies such as Wetherspoon to seek for suppliers outside of the European Union.
“Wetherspoon is extremely confident that it can switch from EU suppliers if required, although we would be very reluctant to initiate such actions,” stated the founder of the pub operator on Friday.
“It is my view that the main risk from the current Brexit negotiations is not to Wetherspoon, but to our excellent EU suppliers – and to EU economies.”Martin added: “EU leaders should take a wise-up pill in order to avoid causing further economic damage to struggling economies like Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy – where youth unemployment, in particular, is at epidemic levels.”
Martin added: “EU leaders should take a wise-up pill in order to avoid causing further economic damage to struggling economies like Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy – where youth unemployment, in particular, is at epidemic levels.”
The chairman of Wetherspoon warned that it seems that there is little genuine appetite for a free trade deal from the bureaucracy of Brussels.
“EU companies are, paradoxically, reliant on the goodwill of UK consumers, who are likely to prefer tariff-free goods in the future from non-EU countries, which are generally in favour of free trade, rather than deals with companies which are subject to the diktat of those who wish to punish the UK,” explained Martin.
The comments of Martin came as the pub operator reported a growth in full-year profit before tax. Revenue and sale also edged higher on the back of a great summer.
The FTSE 250-listed company reported a 15.6% year-on-year rise in pre-tax profits to £76.4m in 2017 to the end of July, while profits would have been £102.8m excluding exceptional items.
Revenue increased from £1.60bn to £1.66bn, while like-for-like sales rose 4% and the company affirmed that it would maintain its full-year dividend of 4p per share.
However, Martin cautioned that the company was not likely to maintain the performance over the course of 2017.
“This is a positive start, but is for a few weeks only – and is very unlikely to continue for the rest of the year,” said Martin. “Comparisons will become more stretching – and sales, which were very strong in the summer holidays, are likely to return to more modest levels.”