Wetherspoons has put over thirty of its pubs up for sale as it records losses of £30 million, something boss Tim Martin says is a ‘momentous challenge’ for the business.
While the pub chain has seen a rise in sales compared to last year, its numbers are still below pre-pandemic levels.
In the year to July, Wetherspoon’s sales were down 4.3% to £1.74 billion. For comparison, the company recorded sales of over £1.8 billion for 2019.
The chain opened seven new pubs during the year, and sold, closed or ended the leases on fifteen others. In July, the business ran a total of 852 pubs across the country.
But in response to its revenue losses and pressures brought on by the cost of living crisis, Wetherspoons is now selling off thirty-two of its pubs from its estate, including nine in London.
Martin said in a statement: “During lockdown, dyed-in-the-wool pub-goers, many for the first time, filled their fridges with supermarket beer – and it has proved to be a momentous challenge to persuade them to return to the more salubrious environment of the saloon bar.”
He added: “The company has improved its prospects in a number of ways in recent financial years.
“We own an increasing percentage of freehold properties, the balance sheet has been strengthened, interest rates have been fixed at low levels until 2031, and we have a large contingent of long-serving pub staff and underlying sales are improving.
“However, as a result of the previously reported increases in labour and repair costs and the potentially adverse effects of rises in interest rates and energy costs on the economy, firm predictions are hard to make.”
Martin also slammed the tax advantages supermarkets have over pubs as a ‘competitive disadvantage’ when it comes to paying VAT on food.
He said: “This competitive disadvantage has had an increasingly debilitating impact on the hospitality industry and will undoubtedly result in long-term financial weakness vis a vis supermarkets – which will also be harmful to employees, the Treasury and the overall economy.”
The 32 pubs up for sale:
Barnsley – Silkstone Inn
Beaconsfield – Hope & Champion
Bexleyheath – Wrong ‘Un
Bournemouth – Christopher Creeke
Cheltenham – Bank House
Durham – Water House
Halifax – Percy Shaw
Hanham – Jolly Sailor
Harrow – Moon on the Hill
Hove – Cliftonville Inn
London Battersea – Asparagus
London East Ham – Miller’s Well
London Eltham – Bankers Draft
London Forest Gate – Hudson Bay
London Forest Hill – Capitol
London Hornsey – Toll Gate
London Holborn – Penderel’s Oak
London Islington – Angel
London Palmers Green – Alfred Herring
Loughborough – Moon & Bell
Loughton – Last Post
Mansfield – Widow Frost
Middlesborough – Resolution
Purley – Foxley Hatch
Redditch – Rising Sun
Sevenoaks – Sennockian
Southampton – Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis
Stafford – Butler’s Bell
Watford – Colombia Press
West Bromwich – Billiard Hall
Willenhall – Malthouse
Wirral – John Masefield
Pub chain giving away FREE pints to anyone with one of these 50 surnames
Are you on the list?
England’s World Cup campaign got off to a flying start yesterday with a convincing 6-2 win over Iran.
Our Welsh neighbours – who are also in Group B with us – managed a draw with the USA, thanks to a late Gareth Bale penalty.
But goals aren’t the only thing to celebrate this World Cup, as a pub chain is giving away FREE pints to lucky fans who have one of 50 surnames.
Greene King is dishing out a free drink to anyone who has the same surname as a player in either the England or Wales squads.
If you have one of the lucky last names, you can claim a pint on the house at any point during an England or Wales game.
All you have to do is head to a participating Greene King pub with your driving licence or passport to prove your name.
Anyone with one of these 50 surnames can claim the free pint:
All you need to do is head down to your nearest participating boozer and show the bar your photo ID during any England or Wales World Cup group stage game.
You can find the nearest pub to you taking part in the offer here.
Will Ferrell appeals for spare room in North West to watch Eurovision
Got any room for Will?
Earlier this year it was announced that Eurovision 2023 would be held in Liverpool instead of Kiev, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Following the news, all hotels and accommodation in the city quickly sold out – with many establishments dramatically increasing their prices in the process.
As such, finding somewhere to stay during the annual song contest has become nigh on impossible, even if you’re a Hollywood superstar like Will Ferrell.
Will recently appealed for help in finding accommodation for next year’s Eurovision during an appearance on BBC Radio 2 to promote his new film Spirited.
The actor previously wrote and starred in the 2020 film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, playing Icelandic singer Lars Erickssong.
READ MORE: Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf returns to screens in new Asda Christmas advert
During the BBC interview, Zoe Ball mentioned how much she enjoyed the film, to which Will responded: “And it’s in Liverpool this year, isn’t it?”
After being asked if he wanted to go, he said: “You know my mother really wants me to take her to Eurovision, she’s dying to go and she’s always wanted to go to Liverpool.”
Will added: “But aren’t the hotels all booked now?”
After the comedian appealed for a spare room to stay in, Zoe said: “If anyone is willing to put up Will Ferrell and his mum in Liverpool or the Liverpool area during Eurovision.”
Will revealed his requirements: “We need a clean, tidy room. We’ll share a room – two bunk beds that’s all we need. I know we’re kidding but my mom would love that, she’d be thrilled.”
Eurovision 2023 will consist of two semi-finals on May 9th and 11th, before the final on May 13th.
Artificial grass company ordered to remove ‘offensive’ billboard in Greater Manchester
A billboard advertisement for a Greater Manchester artificial grass company was ordered to be taken down by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The advertising watchdog ruled that the ‘offensive’ billboard – located at a busy junction where Oldham Road meets the M60 in Hollinwood – ‘objectified and stereotyped women as sexual objects’.
The ASA investigated the poster from Oldham-based Great Grass MCR Ltd following complaints, finding that the ad was ‘irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence’.
Featuring text that read ‘Artificial Grarse Experts’, the billboard also used an image of a woman in just her pants, with additional text saying ‘Perfect 365 days a year…Get laid by the best’.
The ASA said: “The complainants, who believed the ad objectified and sexualised women, challenged whether the ad was offensive, harmful and irresponsible.”
They continued: “We noted that the word ‘grass’ was spelt incorrectly to include the word ‘arse’. We considered that was likely to be understood by readers to be a reference to the model’s buttocks and had the effect of making that exposed part of her body the focus, thereby drawing attention to the ad.
“The ad also stated ‘Get laid by the best’. We considered ‘get laid’ would be understood by readers as a slang reference to sexual intercourse. We considered that text, together with the model’s pose and state of undress, was sexually suggestive and would be seen as presenting the model as a sexual object.
“We acknowledged that while sunbathing, people might recline on a lawn wearing revealing clothing. However, we considered that in the context of the ad, in particular the references to ‘arse’ and ‘get laid’, the model was portrayed as a sexual object, rather than someone who was sunbathing.
“For those reasons, we concluded that the ad objectified and stereotyped women as sexual objects, was irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence.”
In response to the ruling, the ASA told Great Grass to make sure that any future advertising was ‘socially responsible’ so as to not cause widespread offence.
The ASA said: “Great Grass said it was noteworthy that there had only been three complaints when the ad had been seen by thousands of people. They therefore believed that most people were not offended by the ad, but found it amusing.
“They believed the complaints were generated by people on social media encouraging others who likely had not even seen the ad, to complain about it.
“Great Grass also said that to assume that the person featured in the ad was a woman was wrong and offensive to the transgender community.”
The company responded to the ASA ruling by saying that ‘Get laid by the best’ was a strapline it had used for many years.
Great Grass spoke to the Manchester Evening News, saying: “The ad was a bit of light-hearted fun and not intended to offend anyone. There have been a number of people posting the ad on social media with positive comments.
“We thought with all the problems going on in the world at the moment anything that can bring a smile is a welcome distraction. It is a very busy junction and the ad has been seen by thousands and thousands of people.
“To the three who found it offensive, we apologise. To the fifty odd thousand who found it amusing, sorry it’s got to go.”