J D Wetherspoon
|Type||Public limited company|
|Traded as||LSE: JDW|
|Headquarters||Watford, United Kingdom|
|Number of locations||Over 920 pubs throughout Britain|
|Key people||Tim Martin (Chairman)
John Hutson (CEO)
|Products||Public houses and hotels|
|Revenue||£1,280.9 million (2013)|
|Operating income||£111.3 million (2013)|
|Profit||£46.2 million (2013)|
J D Wetherspoon plc (commonly known as Wetherspoon's) is a British pub chain with headquarters in Watford, Hertfordshire. Founded in 1979 by Tim Martin, the company owns over 920 outlets. The chain champions cask ale, low prices, long opening hours, and no music. The company also operates the Lloyds No. 1 chain and a modest number of Wetherspoon Hotels. The chain has become known for converting large, unconventional premises into pubs. Premises tend to be large by British pub standards, and use an open plan layout.
In 1979, Tim Martin opened his first pub, on Colney Hatch Lane in Muswell Hill, north London. Many of the other early Wetherspoon pubs were also in the western part of Haringey. The J D Wetherspoon name comes from one of Martin's teachers in New Zealand who could not control his class, and told Tim that he would never succeed in business.
In the early 1990s, Wetherspoon began a policy of routinely selling off their smaller or less profitable outlets, often—but not always—replacing them with larger premises very close by. There are now around 100 ex-Wetherspoon pubs, and none of the earliest outlets in the chain is still part of the estate. The oldest surviving Wetherspoon is the Rochester Castle in Stoke Newington, opened in 1983. Until the mid-1990s, when it began to expand across the country, most of the company's pubs were clustered around the Greater London area.
In 1998, Wetherspoon introduced over-sized glasses and promoted the "full pint". This initiative was soon withdrawn, supposedly because customers were still asking for top-ups, but arguably because other pub chains did not follow their lead.
Food and drink
Wetherspoon claimed to be "the only large pub firm which opens all its pubs early in the morning", serving breakfast and coffee as well as a full food menu into the evening. Weekly food promotions include Steak club (Tuesday), Wing it Wednesday (Chicken club, Wednesday), Curry Club (Thursday), Fish Friday, and Sunday Club (traditional Sunday roasts).
Wetherspoon hosts an "Ale Festival" in March/April each year, where a larger range of guest ales is available in each pub, and a "Cider Festival" in the summer.
Properties and operations
Many Wetherspoons pubs are conversions of existing buildings, including:
- Theatres and cinema (Playhouse, Colchester, Opera House, Tunbridge Wells, Coronet, Holloway, Prince Of Wales, Cardiff)
- Banks (Bankers Draft, Sheffield; The Standing Order, Derby; Becketts Bank, Leeds; The Moon and Sixpence, Hatch End; The Five Quarter, Peterlee, The Counting House, Congleton)
- Post offices (Last Post, Southend, Loughton, Humphrey Bean, Tonbridge)
- Swimming pools (Swim Inn, Sheffield)
- Churches (The Church House, Wath-upon-Dearne, Chapel An Gansblydhen, Bodmin)
Consequently, many Wetherspoons properties are listed buildings.
In December 2013, the chain opened its 900th pub.  Around half are owned freehold; the rest are leasehold.
Wetherspoon half-year figures for March 2013 show revenue was £626.4m, up 10% for 26 weeks, however profits were fractionally down 2% to £52.1 million with the interim dividend maintained at 4p a share. In a statement, chairman Tim Martin said, "We believe there to be an overwhelmingly strong case for tax parity between pubs and supermarkets, since lower supermarket taxes help them to sell alcoholic drinks at extremely low prices, compared with those of pubs."
Wetherspoon pioneered having non-smoking areas in pubs, even before the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Health Act 2006 in England and Wales introduced smoking bans in public houses, and started converting some of its pubs to completely non-smoking in 2005 before introducing a complete ban in 2006.
Wetherspoon also owns and runs a chain of hotels (known until 17 September 2009 as "Wetherspoon Lodges" or "WetherLodges" and since then as "Wetherspoon Hotels") in the UK. As of 2013, there are 26 hotels in total, with 19 in England, four in Wales and three in Scotland.
Timothy Randall Martin, the founder and chairman of Wetherspoon, was born on 28 April 1955, in Northern Ireland. He was educated at eleven different schools in Northern Ireland and New Zealand including Campbell College in Belfast. He studied law at the University of Nottingham. His early jobs included work on a construction site in Ware, and acting as a sales representative for the Times. In 2005, he was voted the fifth most influential person in the UK pub industry. Martin is a Eurosceptic and has been convinced for many years that the Euro will collapse. He is an admirer of Sam Walton's business philosophy. He makes numerous visits to Wetherspoon's outlets, his favourite ale being Greene King Abbot.
Martin retains an approximately 25% stake in the company.
John Hutson is the chief executive, with total annual remuneration of £758,000 in 2009, consisting of a £364,000 base salary and a £394,000 bonus+other income.
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- The Publican
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- "John Hutson: Executive Profile & Biography". BusinessWeek. McGraw-Hill. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
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