Pub group JD Wetherspoon has warned it would record a loss for the first half of the fiscal year after the Omicron coronavirus variant led to renewed curbs in the country and kept people from heading out during the holidays.

Government advice for people to limit social contacts in the run-up to Christmas in response to an Omicron winter surge left pubs and restaurants largely empty during what should be one of their busiest periods.

The pub group, said like-for-like sales fell by 11.7% in the 25 weeks to Jan. 16, with second-quarter sales hurt by restrictions imposed by Britain in December.

“The uncertainty created by the introduction of Plan B COVID-19 measures makes predictions for sales and profits hazardous,” Wetherspoon Chairman Tim Martin said in a statement. also mocking the Prime Minister over Downing Street “high jinks” during lockdown – and suggested it would have been better if staff had partied in its pubs instead.

Walid Koudmani, market analyst at financial brokerage XTB comments:

“In the financial year to date (25 weeks to 16 January 2022), like-for-like sales decreased by 11.7% and total sales by 13.3%, compared to the similar period in financial year 2020. While the company blamed a variety of factors for this disappointing performance, the report stated that sales in the second quarter were affected by the “Plan B” restrictions announced by the government along with increasing pressures from VAT, which made them less competitive.

Nevertheless, the board expects more losses in the coming months but is optimistic about the second half of the year, which could provide some much needed cash flow, particularly if the pandemic situation continues to improve.”


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