Wetherspoons saw a loss of £154.7 million in the year to 25 July, compared with a £34.1 million loss a year earlier. The pandemic caused sales to slump and the chain struggled to recruit staff in staycation hotspots post-lockdown. Revenue dropped from £1.26 billion to £773 million in the last year following a 19-week closure for the chain due to covid-19 restrictions.
Wetherspoons added that its airport sites also struggled throughout this period, down 47.3% as travel restrictions led to a substantial decline in footfall.
However, over the past nine weeks, like-for-like sales came in just 8.7% lower than in the same period before the pandemic, hinting at signs of recovery.
Tim Martin, the founder and chairman of Wetherspoons, said: “During the pandemic, the pressure on pub managers and staff has been particularly acute, with a number of nationwide and regional pub closures and reopenings, often with very little warning, each of which resulted in different regulations.
“In the last year, the country moved, in succession, from lockdown, to ‘Eat Out to Help Out‘, to curfews, to firebreaks, to pints with a substantial meal only, to different tier systems and to further lockdowns.”
While Wetherspoons opened 5 new sites during the year, it also sold or closed an additional 16. In total, the chain now has 861 pubs in its estate.