Wetherspoons

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J D Wetherspoon plc
TypePublic limited company
LSEJDW
IndustryHospitality
Founded1979; 42 years ago (1979)
FounderTim Martin
HeadquartersWatford, England, UK
Key people
Tim Martin (Chairman)
John Hutson (CEO)
ProductsPublic houses and hotels
RevenueDecrease £1,262.0 million (2020)[1]
Decrease £17.0 million (2020)[1]
Decrease £(97.6) million (2020)[1]
Number of employees
43,000 (2020)[2]
Websitewww.jdwetherspoon.com

J D Wetherspoon plc (branded variously as Wetherspoon or Wetherspoons, and colloquially known as Spoons) is a pub company operating in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Founded in 1979 by Tim Martin and based in Watford, the company operates 925 pubs as of June 2021. This includes the sub-brand of Lloyds No.1 bars, and around 50 Wetherspoon hotels.[3] Wetherspoon is known for converting unconventional premises into pubs, such as former cinemas and banks. The company is publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.[4]

History[edit]

Beer terrace at The Lord High Constable of England in Gloucester Docks

Tim Martin opened his first pub in 1979 in Colney Hatch Lane in Muswell Hill, London.[5] Many of the other early Wetherspoon pubs were also in the western part of Haringey. The name of the business originates from JD, a character in The Dukes of Hazzard, and Wetherspoon, the surname of one of Martin's teachers in New Zealand, who had told him that he would not amount to anything.[6][7][8]

During the 1990s, Wetherspoons began a policy of routinely closing its smaller or less profitable outlets, often replacing them with larger premises close by. In 1998, Wetherspoons introduced the oversized pint glass to promote the "full pint".[9] This initiative was withdrawn, supposedly because customers were still asking for top-ups, but arguably because other pub chains did not follow its lead.[10]

Wetherspoons pioneered non-smoking areas in pubs before the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005, The Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and the Health Act 2006 in England and Wales became law in 2006.[11][12]

In 2015, Wetherspoons were made to pay a total of £24,000 for "direct racial discrimination" to eight individuals who were refused admittance to one of its pubs in north London (The Coronet on Holloway Road, Islington) based on what a judge described as "the stereotypical assumption that Irish travellers and English gypsies cause disorder wherever they go".[13]

The company produces a quarterly in-house magazine, Wetherspoon News, which contains information on the company's activities, its employees, pubs, political views and comments on recent media mentions. The chain also offers a mobile app from which customers can order food and drink to their table to avoid using the bar, even from outside the pub.[14]

Decision to quit social media[edit]

On 16 April 2018, Wetherspoons deleted all of its social media profiles. Chairman Tim Martin cited the "current bad publicity surrounding social media, including the trolling of MPs and others" as a reason for the decision.[15]

Brexit[edit]

The firm — whose founder is a strong supporter of Brexit — replaced champagne with British sparkling wines and Australian wines on 9 July 2018. The firm claims the goal of this is to sell cheaper drinks and to get cheaper alcohol to its two million weekly customers.[16]

COVID-19[edit]

The Ledger Building in Canary Wharf, London, closed during the COVID-19 pandemic

In mid-March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, the government advised the public to avoid areas like pubs, clubs, restaurants, and gyms. As a result, many pub chains closed. However, Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin rejected the government's advice and refused to close a single pub, saying that his instinct was that "closure won’t save lives but will cost thousands of jobs".[17] The government ordered the closure of all pubs from 21 March.[18] Martin refused to pay its 43,000 employees for the period of closure until the furlough costs had been reimbursed by the Government, unlike other national chains which were covering the costs upfront.[19] Martin encouraged Wetherspoons staff to find employment elsewhere, such as the supermarket Tesco.[19] The majority of staff were placed on the Government furlough scheme after its announcement. The Wetherspoon group later suggested that Martin's statement had been reported misleadingly, and said that staff had been paid every week during the closure.[20]

Wetherspoons also told its suppliers in March it would not pay them until its 874 pubs were allowed to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown.[21] In October 2020, Wetherspoons reported its first loss in 36 years. For the year ending in July 2020, the company published a loss of £34 million; the previous year, it reported a net profit of £102.5 million.[22]

Following the pandemic, Wetherspoons reaffirmed its expansion plans including 75 projects, comprising 18 new pubs and 57 significant extensions existing venues. The Guardian reported that the ten-year project would create 2,000 jobs.[23]

Food and drink[edit]

Wetherspoon targets a mass-market offering of low-price food and drink. A large standardised menu is available all day in every pub, cultivating a perception of "unpretentious good value".[6] Wetherspoons claims to be "the only large pub firm which opens all its pubs early in the morning", serving breakfast and coffee.[24] The food menu has continually added healthier and allergen-friendly options, including a calorie rating next to every item.[6]

Wetherspoons hosts two Ale Festivals in March/April and October each year when a larger range of guest ales is available in each pub and a Cider Festival in the summer.[25] The company is the biggest investor in craft beer in the country.[6]

Wetherspoons objected to the VAT rates on food and drink sales in pubs and restaurants in the United Kingdom, and the fact they are higher than those paid by supermarkets.[26] When VAT was temporarily reduced from 20% to 5% during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Wetherspoons was one of several chains to pass some of that saving to customers.[27]

Properties and operations[edit]

Beckett's Bank in Park Row, Leeds, its name reflecting the building's former use
The Picturedrome, a converted cinema in the Kensington area of Liverpool

Though some are new-build or late 20th century properties, many Wetherspoon pubs are conversions of existing historic buildings which have become redundant, including banks, churches, post offices, theatres and a former public swimming pool, with many properties being listed buildings.[28] Pubs are furnished thematically according to the heritage of the building or location, and have routinely won design awards.[6]

Every Wetherspoons pub has a unique carpet, drawing on the location, building, and name. They are produced by Axminster Carpets and, having more than the usual six colours, have to be partially handmade on old fashioned looms, costing up to £30,000 – twice as much as stock designs.[29] These have been the subject of a book, Spoons Carpets by Kit Caliss,[30][31] and a colouring book Colour Your Own Spoons Carpet.[32]

Wetherspoons has placed outlets in the passenger terminals of some UK airports, including Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Edinburgh Airport, Gatwick Airport, Glasgow Airport, Heathrow Airport, and Stansted Airport, as well as at several major railway stations, including Leeds, Liverpool Lime Street, London Cannon Street, London Liverpool Street, and London Victoria,[33][34] with a new bar due to open in Glasgow Central.[35] The main station buildings at Aberystwyth railway station were converted to a Wetherspoons pub Yr Hen Orsaf The Old Station and received a National Railway Heritage Award in 2003.[36]

The first Wetherspoon's pub in Northern Ireland was The Spinning Mill in Ballymena, County Antrim, which opened in 2000. The first Wetherspoons pub in the Republic of Ireland, The Three Tun Tavern, opened in Blackrock, County Dublin, in 2014. Another opened in Cork in 2015.[37][38][39]

In 2014, Wetherspoons opened a pub at the Beaconsfield motorway service area on the M40. The move was criticised for potentially encouraging drink-driving.[40]

Wetherspoons also operates a chain of hotels. In 2015, there were 34 hotels in England, Wales and Scotland, and also a pub and 100-room hotel in Camden Street, Dublin, Ireland.[41]

Every Wetherspoons establishment in Great Britain was visited by Mags Thomson from 1994 to October 2015. She reached a total of 972, which included 80 that have subsequently closed.[42]

In 2018, the company chose Wolverhampton in the West Midlands as the location of the National JD Wetherspoon Museum. The existing pub, The Moon Under Water on Lichfield Street, would be expanded to take in the whole former Co-Op Department Store, to include a hotel and gift shop.[43] Plans were approved in April 2020.[44]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Annual Report 2020" (PDF). J D Wetherspoon. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  2. ^ "JD Wetherspoon denies 'abandoning' staff in coronavirus crisis". The Guardian. 3 March 2021. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Search Here To Find Your Local Pub | All Pubs". J D Wetherspoon. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  4. ^ Martin, Tim (14 September 2012). "Good News Britain: We're putting the 'pub' in 'public'". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  5. ^ "Refurb for Tim Martin's first outlet". Property News. Morning Advertiser. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e Cumming, Ed (6 August 2017). "How Britain fell for Wetherspoon's". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  7. ^ Refurb for Tim Martin's first outlet Morning Advertiser, 1 September 2005
  8. ^ Mathiason, Nick (3 March 2002). "The real pub landlord". The Observer. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  9. ^ "The Investment Column: Wetherspoon dips in growth glitch". Business, News. London: The Independent. 11 March 1998. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Full Pint Issue 6". CAMRA North London. 28 August 2002. Archived from the original on 4 June 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Wetherspoon pubs ban smoking". BBC News. 24 January 2005. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
  12. ^ Tran, Mark (24 January 2005). "Wetherspoon pubs to ban smoking". guardian.co.uk. London. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
  13. ^ "Pub chain pays damages over traveller race bias". London Evening Standard. 18 May 2015. p. 10.
  14. ^ "The Wetherspoon app". J D Wetherspoon.
  15. ^ Christie, Sophie (16 April 2018). "JD Wetherspoon closes all of its social media accounts with immediate effect". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Wetherspoon to replace champagne with British sparkling wines in the run-up to Brexit". The Independent. 13 June 2018.
  17. ^ Wetherspoons boss says UK pubs will stay open as long as possible The Guardian 20 March 2020
  18. ^ "PM orders shutdown of all bars and restaurants". The Times. 21 March 2020. p. 1.
  19. ^ a b Coronavirus: Millionaire Wetherspoon’s boss tells staff to consider working for Tesco The Independent 24 March 2020
  20. ^ "JD Wetherspoons Corrects Media Reports On Staff Pay And Reopenings". MorningStar. 7 May 2020. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  21. ^ "JD Wetherspoon refuses to pay suppliers until lockdown ends". The Guardian. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  22. ^ Alice Hancock (16 October 2020). "Pub chain Wetherspoons pushed by Covid to first annual loss since 1984". Financial Times. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  23. ^ Wood, Zoe (30 March 2021). "JD Wetherspoon to create 2,000 jobs with post-lockdown investment". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  24. ^ "Quality Food, Great Value – Food Menu". J D Wetherspoon. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  25. ^ "Wetherspoon's spring festival focuses on British hops". Cask Marque. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  26. ^ "J D Wetherspoon PLC Update Announcement". www.londonstockexchange.com. London Stock Exchange. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  27. ^ "Wetherspoons launches £1.29 pint as VAT rates cut". www.independent.co.uk. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  28. ^ "Pub Histories". Wetherspoons. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  29. ^ The secret life of Wetherspoon’s freaky carpets The Guardian 10 January 2016
  30. ^ Sanderson, Caroline (29 September 2016). "Kit Caless: 'If I'd pitched the book from scratch, I'd have been laughed out of every publisher's office'". The Bookseller. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  31. ^ Caless, Kit (2016). Spoon's carpets. An appreciation. London: Square Peg. ISBN 9781910931493.
  32. ^ Hancock, Louie (2020). Colour Your Own Spoons Carpet: bumper uk edition. [S.l.]: Independent Publishing Network. ISBN 978-1838537524.
  33. ^ "First look: See inside the new £2 million North Western pub at Lime Street". Liverpool Echo. 3 July 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  34. ^ "JD Wetherspoon To Open 900th Pub Next Week". Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  35. ^ Sandelands, Drew (23 June 2019). "New Wetherspoons at Glasgow Central Station moves step closer to opening". glasgowlive. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  36. ^ "Yr Hen Orsaf Aberystwyth". J D Wetherspoon. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  37. ^ "Open for business: Wetherspoon's first Irish pub serves its first customers". The Journal. 8 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  38. ^ Ciarán Hancock (30 June 2014). "Guinness pulled from menu at Wetherspoon's Blackrock pub". The Irish Times.
  39. ^ "Video: First look inside Ireland's first Wetherspoon pub". Independent.ie. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  40. ^ "JD Wetherspoon opens first motorway pub". The Independent. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  41. ^ "JD Wetherspoon to open hotel, bar at homeless hostel in Dublin". The Irish Times. 15 December 2014.
  42. ^ "One woman's 21-year odyssey to visit every Wetherspoon's". BBC News. 31 October 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  43. ^ "National museum part of £7m city Wetherspoon plan". wolverhampton.gov.uk. 13 December 2018.
  44. ^ "Plans for Wetherspoon museum in Wolverhampton pub approved". BBC News. 1 April 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2021.

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