London pubs up for grabs as Wetherspoon’s looks to reduce estate


here is life in the pub trade yet, the latest sales figures from JD Wetherspoon suggest, though founder Tim Martin again called for a change in how they are taxed.

Sales in the 25 weeks to January 22 were up 13.1% on a year ago and only slightly lower than they were pre-pandemic.

Martin, the chairman and outspoken Brexiteer, noted that costs in the hospitality sector are far higher, especially for energy and labour.

Despite that, Wetherspoon managed to repay £100 million of Covid loans to the government and cut debt by £60 million.

Martin said: “The biggest threat to the hospitality industry is the vast disparity in tax treatment between pubs and restaurants and supermarkets. Supermarkets pay zero VAT in respect of food sales, whereas pubs and restaurants pay 20%. This tax benefit allows supermarkets to subsidise the selling price of beer. We estimate that supermarkets have taken about half of the pub industry’s beer volumes since Wetherspoon started trading in 1979, a process that has likely accelerated following the pandemic.”

Wetherspoon is trying to sell up to 35 more of its pubs — it has sold 10 already — some of which are in London. They include the Plough & Harrow in Hammersmith, the Toll Gate in Hornsey and the Coronet in Holloway.

Wetherspoon’s has 844 pubs in all down from a peak of 900.

Also for sale are: Asparagus – Battersea, Miller’s Well – East Ham, Bankers Draft – Eltham, Hudson Bay – Forest Gate, Capitol – Forest Hill, Plough & Harrow – Hammersmith, Toll Gate – Hornsey, Penderel’s Oak – Holborn, Angel – Islington, Alfred Herring – Palmers Green.

Martin added: “Unless the industry campaigns strongly for equality, it will inevitably shrink relative to supermarkets, which will not help high streets, tourism, the economy overall, or the ancient institution of the pub.”

You can see a full list of the Wetherspoon pubs for sale here:

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