UK pub operator Wetherspoon’s loss narrows despite higher costs

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Signage is seen on a window of a closed Wetherspoon pub, London

(Reuters) -British pub operator J D Wetherspoon’s annual loss narrowed from a year ago, even as the company battled soaring energy and labour costs.

Pub groups in Britain, still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, are now grappling with rising costs of everything from labour and ingredients to energy, and the threat of lower consumer spending as inflation in the country continues to soar.

Last week, its rival Mitchells & Butlers also warned of tighter margins in its new financial year on higher costs.

Wetherspoon’s results also come after it said earlier this year that higher costs of labour and repairs were hurting its bottom line.

On Friday, the company reported a loss of 30.4 million pounds ($33.96 million) for the 12 months ended July 31, compared with 154.7 million loss last year.

“Perhaps the biggest threat to the hospitality industry is the possibility of further lockdowns and restrictions” Chairman Tim Martin said.

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Like for like sales for the first nine weeks of the financial year was 10.1% higher than the same period last year, the company said.

($1 = 0.8951 pounds)

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Uttaresh.V)