J.D. Wetherspoon to inject £200 million into pub portfolio

UK bar group J.D. Wetherspoon is to invest more than £200 million in developing its pub portfolio over the next four years.

The cash injection will be spent on developing new pubs and hotels, according to a statement from the group, as well as enlarging its existing pubs in the UK and Ireland. It said this should create 10,000 new jobs within the group.

Wetherspoon said the “majority” of developments will be allocated to pubs in small and medium sized towns, but will also include larger towns and cities. This will include new pubs in Bourne, Waterford, Hamilton, Ely, Diss, Felixstowe, Newport Pagnell and Prestatyn.

Founder and chairman Tim Martin said: “We are looking forward to opening many more new pubs as well as investing in existing pubs over the next four years.

“We are especially pleased that a large proportion of the investment will be in smaller towns and cities which have seen a decline in investment in recent years.

“The fact that we will be creating approximately 10,000 jobs is great news too.”

So far this year, the group has opened one pub, and shed four from its portfolio, and plans to open 15 more.

Although Wetherspoon’s sales have performed well this year, in its most recent annual results, underlying pre-tax profits fell by 4.5% to £102.5 million in the 52 weeks to 28 July.

Wetherspoon operates 875 pubs and 58 hotels across the UK and Republic of Ireland and employs 44,000 staff.

Last month, proxy adviser Piric criticised Martin’s decision to spend £94,856 on almost 2 million Vote Leave beer mats distributed throughout all Wetherspoon pubs.

Piric also advised shareholders to oust Martin, who founded the company in 1979, from the board due to his lengthy tenure. Corporate governance guidelines in the UK state that executive directors can only hold their position for nine years.

However, shareholders voted to re-elect Martin as chairman at the last AGM, which took place on 21 November.

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