- Tim Martin said UK should quit the customs union as soon as possible
- Pro-Brexit comments made as Wetherspoon suffered 0.5% dip in sales
Tim Martin, the boss of JD Wetherspoon’s has blasted the EU once again, claiming it ‘masquerades as a free trade organisation, but is really a protection racket.’
In a trading update, which saw the pub group suffer a 0.5 per cent drop in like-for-like sales in its third quarter, Mr Martin said Britain should quit the EU customs union after Brexit and adopt free trade policies similar to those in Australia and Singapore.
Leaving the customs union would enable Britain to ‘eliminate taxes on non-EU food and drink imports, reducing prices in the shops, which will immediately improve living standards’, Mr Martin said.
Pro-Brexit: Tim Martin said leaving the customs union will ‘immediately improve living standards’ in the UK
In its trading update, Wetherspoon’s blamed the timing of the early May bank holiday for hitting third-quarter sales, while bemoaning ‘significant cost increases’ in the second half of the financial year.
The pub group’s share price is down 1.48 per cent or 17.50p to 1,164.50p.
In the 13 weeks to 29 April, the pub group saw like-for-like sales rise by 3.5 per cent, with total sales up 2.8 per cent.
It said the rate of growth was slowed by the May Day break, which was included in the third quarter in 2017, but failed to make the cut-off this year, resulting in tougher comparatives.
In January, the pub group reported like-for-like sales growth of 6 per cent for its second quarter.
Looking ahead, the group said it expects its trading outcome for the year to end up in line with previous expectations.
Looking ahead: Mr Martin said the UK should have arrangements similar to those in Australia and Singapore
Since the start of the financial year, the group opened five pubs and sold 19. It intends to open one more this financial year.
The company said it had spent £15.4million on buying the freeholds of pubs of which they were previously tenants and bought back £51.6million worth of shares in the financial year to date.
Mr Martin said: ‘As anticipated, the rate of like for like sales growth slowed slightly in the third quarter.
‘We continue to face significant cost increases in the second half in areas which include labour, business rates and the sugar tax. There is also some uncertainty as to the effect on sales of the FIFA World Cup.’