It hasn’t been a great year for the hospitality industry due to Covid-19 restrictions, with lengthy closures and rule changes it hasn’t exactly been “business as usual”. Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is no different, and it suffered its biggest loss on record - but sympathy is in short supply.
Losses are a rare occurrence for the company, having only recorded three within its 37 years (two of them being 2020 and 2021, with the other way back in 1984).
The chain recorded its worst numbers to date in the 12 months to July 25 with a pre-tax loss of £154.7 million, up from £34.1 million a year ago.
Meanwhile, sales were down from £1.26 billion to £772.6 million.
Despite the grim figure, founder and chairman Tim Martin is hopeful about the future as customers made their return to his pubs after lockdown restrictions eased in the summer.
Martin was a government critic during the pandemic and accused them of mishandling the hospitality sector while also slamming lockdown restrictions, dubbing them as “a threat to civil society and democracy.”
Since the news broke, people who aren’t particularly fond of the pub boss have taken to Twitter to share their lack of sympathy for Martin.
It might have something to do with the fact that Martin told his 43,000 employees that they would not be paid during the shutdown until government furlough scheme cash had arrived (which he U-turned on due to heavy backlash) and instead urged his staff to apply for jobs at Tesco.
This led to some customers leading a protest to boycott Martin’s pub chain with the hashtag “#NeverSpoons.”
'Wetherspoons heaviest loss on record & sympathy – like everything else – is in short supply' for Tim Martin, who t… https://t.co/E5lWBB3GNW
“During the pandemic, the pressure on pub managers and staff has been particularly acute, with a number of nationwide and regional pub closures and reopenings, often with very little warning, each of which resulted in different regulations,” said Martin.
The founder added: “In spite of these obstacles, Wetherspoon is cautiously optimistic about the outcome for the financial year, on the basis that there is no further resort to lockdowns or onerous restrictions.”