Outspoken Wetherspoons MD, Tim Martin, has continued beating the pro-Brexit drum post-referendum, in contrast to rivals Greene King who are warning of difficult times ahead for the pub sector.
Two of the country’s largest pubco’s, both with a strong connection to the gaming machine industry, have entered a war of words over the impact of Brexit. JD Wetherspoons and Greene King have clashed over the relative merits of pitfalls of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
Wetherspoons chief, Tim Martin was a vocal proponent of Brexit before the referendum and has continued to strike the same bullish tone after the fact.
In his company’s recently released full year results, Martin said: “Now that the gloomy economic forecasts for the immediate aftermath of the referendum have been proven to be false, ‘Scare Story 2’ is that failure to agree on trade deal with the EU will have devastating consequences.
“Common sense…suggests that the worst approach for the UK is to insist on the necessity of a ‘deal’ – we don’t need one and the fact that EU countries sell us twice as much as we sell them creates a hugely powerful negotiating position.”
Meanwhile, in its own statement to the market, Greene King warned of falling consumer confidence. “As expected, uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future withdrawal from the European Union has translated into a softening of some economic indicators and a reduction in consumer confidence,” said a company statement. “While the broader implications remain unclear, a number of recent industry surveys have flagged risks to leisure spend and we are alert to a potentially tougher trading environment ahead.”
Like-for-like sales at Greene King pubs had dropped to 1.7 percent in the first 18 weeks for this financial year. Meanwhile like-for-like sales at Wetherspoons have increased 3.4 percent, over the larger period of the past 12 months.
Hitting back directly against the cautious outlook of his competitor, Martin continued to argue against deal-making with the EU. Telling the Telegraph that, “the only thing worse than complaining about the weather, is complaining about Brexit. If the EU is keen for a trade deal, we should cooperate, but unelected apparatchiks like President Juncker can’t be controlled, which is one of the main reasons we voted to leave.”
The stock market fortunes of the two companies have also taken divergent paths, as the differing financial results saw Greene King’s share price falling 4.8 percent, while Wetherspoons climbed 4.4 percent to 965 pence.