Results tagged “JD Wetherspoon” from Sunday Mercury - Toby Jugg

Drinking sinking?

By Steve Green on Oct 5, 10 05:10 PM

Forget the "Booze Britain" headlines - alcohol consumption in the UK is actually going through its biggest dip in 60 years, according to new research.

The latest edition of the British Beer & Pub Association's annual Statistical Handbook reveals alcohol consumption dropped a full six per cent last year. Beer remains the nation's favourite, accounting for 60 per cent of all on-trade sales.

It's not all bad news, though: JD Wetherspoons has announced a four per cent rise in sales for the financial year ending July. However, most of this came from the 47 new pubs it opened furing that period, bringing its estate up to 775.

The UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon has unveiled plans to open 250 new pubs over the next five years, increasing its outlets by nearly one third.

This move bucks the current trend, but is scarcely turning the industry around: the British Beer and Pub Association estimated in July that more than 50 pubs were closing each week.

City analysts point to JD Wetherspoon's move into such markets as breakfasts and evening meals as key to the chain's success. The company says it now serves 1.5 meals per week, including 254,000 breakfasts and 75,000 curries.

Wetherspoon chair Tim Martin, who opened his first pub in 1969, yesterday told The Independent: "I think cappuccinos and breakfasts have been very important, as has a big concentration on real ale. Volumes of real ale are up around 17 per cent in the last few months."

The chain reportedly sold nearly three million pints during Wetherspoon's 19-day, bi-annual international real ale festival, which ended on 15 November. Martin cited brewer Greene King's Ruddles County Premium Ale as selling particularly well, adding: "We are also doing a range of micro-brewers' beers from all over Britain, and also from New Zealand and Canada."

From Hugh Muir's diary column in Tuesday's edition of The Guardian: "Finally, while the Act of Union holds fast, each day it is characterised by its controversies and tested by its tensions. Many important figures have been called upon to address these sensitivities. Tim Martin, the ebullient, outspoken boss of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain is just the latest. Asked by a customer to address the issue of why a standard side order produces two tasty, golden hash browns in his English establishments but just one in Wetherspoons outlets in Rhyl, North Wales, Martin said: 'My wife comes from the Rhyl area, where they are notoriously parsimonious (like the Scots, without the generosity).' But then, this mutual understanding is what makes the union what it is. Destinies entwined by love and hate."

BLOG Toby Jugg2.jpgI wrote recently of the massive slump in beer sales in pubs across the UK.

Unsurprisingly, share prices are already being hit. Following downbeat reports by two leading investment analysts, Credit Suisse and Landbanki, Enterprise Inns dropped 3.6% in value on Friday.

That would be bad enough, but this is just the latest nail in the group's coffin - it's now worth less than half what it was a year ago and is poised to drop out of the FTSE 100 next month.

Other brewers downgraded by Landbanki include Marstons, Mitchells & Butlers and Greene King. Only J D Wetherspoon - one of the few highstreet pub chains to enthusiastically promote real ales - was recommended to investors, and that's simply because Landbanki believes the market's low expectations have actually left the stock underpriced.

Nor is cider faring any better. Sales of the much-promoted Mangers have certainly lost their fizz, and are expected to have plummeted by 15% in the six months ending 31 August. Its Irish owner, C&C, reportedly anticipates little upturn before January 2009.


Toby Jugg

Toby Jugg - A former newspaper reporter, Steve Green now works as a freelance journalist and technical writer. He first joined the Campaign for Real Ale in the mid-1980s and currentlyproduces a regular column for Solihull CAMRA in the Solihull Times, under the pseudonym "Toby Jugg".

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