The pub giant posted a pre-tax loss of £154.7 million, up from £34.1 million a year ago, with sales down from £1.26 billion to £772.6 million for the 52 weeks ended 25 July 2021.
JDW said it was very difficult to interpret, “in a meaningful way”, financial results for the last year, due to the national and regional lockdowns, and a “bewildering range” of restrictions, which applied to different places at different times.
He also attacked the Government for its handling of the sector during the pandemic and asserted that the use of lockdown restrictions were “a threat to civil society and democracy”.
But Martin said he remained hopeful for the future and customers were starting to return since lockdown restrictions eased in the summer.
However, filling jobs was becoming difficult in some areas – particularly “staycation” locations in different parts of the country.
Martin said like-for-like sales in the first nine weeks of the current financial year were 8.7% lower than the same weeks in August and September 2019, before the pandemic started.
In the last four weeks of the period, like-for-like sales were minus 6.4%. Excluding airport pubs, where like-for-like sales declined by 47.3%, like-for-like sales declined by 7.1% in the first nine weeks, and by 4.9% in the last four.
Total employee numbers averaged 39,025 in the financial year, which increased to 42,003 for the week ending 20 September 2021.
Wetherspoon also revealed it was planning to promote a number of its experienced pub or area managers to board positions.
These ‘worker directors’ would bring more front-line experience to the board room and help to protect the DNA of the business for future generations, the company says.
In March, JD Wetherspoon announced that it was planning to invest £145m into developing new pubs and upgrading existing ones over the next 10 years.