Tim Martin (businessman)

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Tim Martin
Timothy Randall Martin

(1955-04-28) 28 April 1955 (age 64)
ResidenceExeter, Devon, England
Alma materUniversity of Nottingham
Known forFounder, Wetherspoon
TitleChairman, Wetherspoon
Spouse(s)Felicity Martin

Timothy Randall Martin (born 28 April 1955) is a British businessman, and best known as the founder and Chairman of Wetherspoon, a pub chain in the UK and Ireland. A prominent critic of the European Union, he is a vocal supporter of Brexit.

Early life[edit]

Martin was born on 28 April 1955; his place of birth has been reported as both Belfast[1] and Norwich.[2] His father served in the Royal Air Force and then worked for brewing multinational Guinness plc and became Malaysian marketing director. Martin was educated at eleven schools in New Zealand and Northern Ireland; including Campbell College in Belfast.[3][4]

He read Law at the University of Nottingham,[3] and qualified as a barrister in 1979, but has never practised law.[5]


His early jobs included working on a building site in Ware,[3] and acting as a sales representative for The Times.[4]

Martin is the founder and chairman of Wetherspoon.[2] He bought his first pub, in Muswell Hill, in 1979.[2] His brother Gerry also ran a pub chain, Old Monk, which was listed in 1998 but went out of business in 2002.[5]

In 2005, Martin was voted the fifth most influential person in the UK pub industry.[6] He is an admirer of Sam Walton's business philosophy.[7] He visits at least 15 Wetherspoon outlets each week.[8]

As of July 2018, Martin owned 33.7m shares.[9]


Martin is a staunch supporter of Brexit, representing these views for journalists and on political TV programmes such as BBC Politics Live and Sky News, [10] and BBC Radio 4 programmes including Today, Question Time and Farming Today.[11][12][13] In 2016, Martin donated £200,000 to the Vote Leave campaign.[14]

In January 2017, Wetherspoons published figures showing an increase in sales of more than 3%. Martin used this as evidence that there was no post-Brexit referendum slowdown as predicted by economists.[15]

In June 2018, Martin announced that Wetherspoons would be ceasing the sale of products from other European Union countries in a 24-month plan, with the immediate example of Prosecco and Champagne being replaced by Australian wines. He believes the prediction of food prices rising and food shortages leading to stockpiling of supplies in the UK post-Brexit is merely scaremongering tactics deployed by pro-EU journalists, and mentioned the fact there was no increased queues in his restaurants as a result; after he removed French brandy from sale in his restaurants as an example.[16][17][18]

Wetherspoons mass posted a pro-Brexit magazine to an unknown number of households in January 2019, attracting criticism in the press. The magazine claims to have a readership of two million.[19] The employee campaign group Spoons Workers Against Brexit, labeled the publication dangerous propaganda, and asserted that Martin was exploiting his position as CEO.[20] Wetherspoon responded by defending the mass mailing, claiming it contained "... pro and anti Brexit articles to stimulate debate", however the proportionately minor mentions of views critical to a no deal Brexit were preceded by statements by Tim Martin, deriding expert opinions and "the elite".[21][22]

The reality, which the public understands, but many of the elite don’t, is that leaving the EU next year allows the UK, without the consent of, or negotiation with, the EU, to abolish all the taxes (tariffs) on non-EU imports, like oranges, rice, coffee, Aussie wine and a total of 12,651 products. This will reduce prices in the shops, making for a better-off public.

— "Tim's Viewpoint", Wetherspoons Newsletter, Winter 2018/19[21]

Personal life[edit]

Martin is married to Felicity, whom he met while at university; they have four children, and live in Exeter, Devon.[3][23][5]


  1. ^ "JD Wetherspoon: Belfast-born Tim Martin runs one of Britain's biggest pub chains and is creating 100 new jobs in the city". Belfast Telegraph. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Andrew Clark. "Interview: Tim Martin, chairman, JD Wetherspoon". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d The Real Pub Landlord The Observer, 3 March 2002
  4. ^ a b The giant of the pub world The Times, 8 February 2009
  5. ^ a b c Chris Blackhurst (30 January 2005). "Meet Britain's unlikeliest tycoon". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Catering & Hospitality News". Caterer Search. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  7. ^ "UK: BOOKS – The book that shook TIM MARTIN". managementtoday.co.uk.
  8. ^ "JDW's Tim Martin: Only here for the beer". Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  10. ^ Porritt, Richard. "Wetherspoons boss makes bonkers '£600 hard Brexit windfall' claim". The New European.
  11. ^ Campbell, Chris (7 July 2017). "They're trying to take over!' Wetherspoon's boss blasts 'unelected' EU Brexit negotiators". Daily Express.
  12. ^ Preston-Ellis, Rom (27 June 2018). "Question Time in Exeter: Who is on the panel?". Devon Live.
  13. ^ Tim Martin on UK food production post-Brexit, Farming Today, BBC Radio 4, 22 March 2017
  14. ^ "JDW boss Tim Martin gives £200,000 to Brexit campaign".
  15. ^ Ambrose, Jillian (4 October 2018). "Wetherspoons boss slams economists' post-Brexit gloom as pub sales climb" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  16. ^ "Wetherspoon to stop selling champagne". 13 June 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  17. ^ Bernhardt, Jack (14 June 2018). "No more Wetherspoons champagne after Brexit. It doesn't go with gammon anyway". The Guardian.
  18. ^ Rabbett, Abigail; Pengelly, Ella (9 January 2019). "What happened when Brexit loving Wetherspoons owner held a Q&A in The Regal". cambridgenews.
  19. ^ "Pub propaganda is leaving a bitter taste". New European. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  20. ^ Grant, Katie (29 January 2019). "Wetherspoon's staff urge Tim Martin: Remove your pro-Brexit 'propaganda' from our pubs". inews.co.uk.
  21. ^ a b "Tim's Viewpoint - J D Wetherspoon". www.jdwetherspoon.com.
  22. ^ "Wetherspoons Faces Backlash After Posting 'Pro-Brexit' Magazine To Households". HuffPost UK. 1 February 2019.
  23. ^ Hilary Clarke (10 January 1999). "Interview: Barrister who was called to the bar". The Independent. Retrieved 19 June 2017.