September 14, 2018 / 6:45 AM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-Wetherspoon posts higher annual profit, says costs to rise this year

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Sept 14 (Reuters) - British pub chain J D Wetherspoon Plc reported an increase in full-year profit on Friday as a record heatwave brought in more customers, but the group said it expects higher costs this year.

The company, which owns and operates more than 900 pubs in Britain and Ireland, said like-for-like sales rose 5.5 percent in the six weeks ended Sept. 9.

“The company has had a reasonable start to the financial year, but taxes, labour and interest costs are expected to be higher than those of last year,” Chairman Tim Martin said.

Wetherspoon, like its rivals, has been bogged down by significant costs from a new sugar tax on beverages, a minimum wage increase, rent increases and higher power bills.

But a record heatwave across the United Kingdom had helped bring in more people into Wetherspoon pubs.

In July, the group had also said the Football World Cup was drawing in more customers.

The company’s higher sales over the summer was largely due to warm weather rather than the Football World Cup, Martin, who campaigned in favour of Britain’s exit from the European Union, told BBC radio on Friday.

Wetherspoon’s pre-tax profit after exceptional items rose to 89 million pounds ($116.7 million) in the year ended July 29, up 16.5 percent from year earlier. Like-for-like sales climbed 5 percent.

$1 = 0.7627 pounds Reporting by Justin George Varghese and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sarah Young in London; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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