In the 12 months to July 25, the pub chain sank to a pre-tax loss of £ 154.7 million, compared with a loss of £ 34.1 million a year ago. Sales also fell from £ 1.26 billion to £ 772.6 million.
This is only the third year the company has posted losses in its 37-year history.
Founder and Chairman Tim Martin said he was hopeful for the future and that customers were starting to come back since closing restrictions eased in the summer.
Martin criticized the government’s handling of the bar sector during the pandemic, calling the use of closed shutdowns “a threat to civil society and democracy.”
The Wetherspoons boss is now in a rush to fill vacant positions in troubled areas.
“On average, Wetherspoon has received a reasonable number of applications for vacancies, as indicated by the increase in the number of employees, but some areas of the country, especially the ‘vacation home’ areas in the West Country and elsewhere, have had Difficulty attracting staff, “he said.
“During the pandemic, the pressure on pub managers and staff has been particularly acute, with a series of national and regional pub closures and reopens, often with very little warning, each of which gave as different regulations resulted. “
Although pubs were entitled to government support under the licensing scheme, they have been one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, facing prolonged closures and rule changes.
Wetherspoons has also been hit by the current HGV driver shortage, leading to supply chain problems.
Martin did not comment on the shortage or the impact it is having on Wetherspoons, nor did the prominent Brexit supporter attempt to downplay the links between the HGV shortage and the UK leaving the EU.
Instead, he questioned the government’s use of lockdown restrictions: “The biggest threat to the pub industry, and also, among other things, to restaurants, theaters, cinemas, airlines and travel companies, relates to the precedent set by the government for the use of blockades and draconian restrictions, imposed under emergency powers. “