LONDON, March 14 British pub chain JD
Wetherspoon posted an 8.5 percent rise in first-half
profit and said it was confident in its prospects for the year
after a strong start to the second half.
The firm, which has grown to over 900 pubs on demand for its
popular food and drinks deals, said on Friday profit before tax
and exceptional items for the 26 weeks to Jan. 26 rose to 37.8
million pounds ($63 million), up from 34.8 million a year ago.
First half revenue rose 9.1 percent to 683.2 million pounds,
with sales at pubs open over a year up 5.2 percent in the half.
The firm said that momentum had extended into the first 6
weeks of its second half with underlying sales up 6.7 percent.
The group's first half operating margin fell 10 basis points
to 8.2 percent, within its guidance of 8.1-8.3 percent for the
year. This represents a fall from 8.7 percent in 2012-13 due to
investment in IT, staff and training ahead of expansion.
Wetherspoon, which will open its first pubs in the Republic
of Ireland in 2014, is aiming for between 40 and 50 new UK
openings in 2013-14, a rate it told Reuters in January it
expects to achieve for the next decade or so, as it continues it
focus on growing sales over margins.
The firm said on Friday it was confident of a "reasonable
outcome" for the full-year. According to a Reuters poll of 13
analysts it is expected to post a profit of 78.66 million
pounds, up 2.3 percent on 2012-13.
Shares in Wetherspoon closed at 828.5 pence on Thursday, up
65 percent on a year ago, valuing the firm at 1 billion pounds.