Wetherspoon's struggles to live up to years of record profits

Tim Martin of Wetherspoon
Tim Martin of Wetherspoon

Shares in JD Wetherspoon dropped on Wednesday as the pub group hinted at weaker annual performance and chairman Tim Martin revealed he would be temporarily working part-time after a health scare.

The share price was down 9.5 per cent as investors absorbed a first-quarter trading update in which the chain said like-for-like sales increased by 5.5 per cent and total sales were up 6.2 per cent.

Despite strong growth, Mr Martin said the company was dealing with tough comparatives, having delivered several years of record profits.

"It is difficult to be too precise at this early stage of the current financial year but we now expect a trading outcome slightly below that achieved in the previous financial year," he said

"We will provide further updates on our trading as we progress through the year."

Mr Martin also revealed he has been recovering from an operation after a burst appendix so will be working part-time from home for "several weeks".

Senior independent director Liz McMeikan will chair the general meeting next week in his absence.

The group also said it is increasing staff wages in response to record levels of unemployment.

The move follows a strike by a small number of staff last month.

The company has opened two new pubs in the first quarter and has closed or sold three.

It guided new openings of between five and 10 pubs in the current financial year.