Pub operator J D Wetherspoon served up improved annual profits and revenues Friday, helped a strong rise in sales over an unusually hot summer. For the 52 weeks months to 29 July, profit before tax rose 4.3% to £107.2m, while revenue rose 2% to £1.69bn. Like-for-like sales in its pubs, as well as its small hotel business, rose 5%, as the company also benefited from the World Cup. Bar and food sales both grew by 5.1% each, though overall profit was hit by an £8.7m loss on a disposal, and an impairment charge of £9.6m for closed sites, underperforming pubs and onerous leases. The full year dividend was left unchanged at 12.0p per share. Like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 9 September increased by 5.5%. The company said it had made a 'reasonable' start to the new financial year, though it warned of higher than expected costs, owing to taxes, labour and interest costs. In his regular Brexit commentary, chairman Tim Martin said there would be a 'huge gain' for business and consumers if the UK copied the free trade approach of countries like Singapore, Switzerland and Canada and cut protectionist EU tariffs. '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, so we estimate that like-for-like sales growth of about 4.0% will be required for the company to match last year's record profits,' Martin said.
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