JD Wetherspoon has reported like-for-like sales (lfls) up 5% in the year to 29 July, with total sales up 2% to £1.7bn.

The lfls split between wet and dry was equal, with both up 5.1% during the year, while accommodation lfls grew 2.3% and sales/fruit machines 2.9%.

Like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 9 September increased by 5.5%. The company said it had seen a “reasonable start to the financial year” but with taxes, labour and interest costs all expected to be higher than those of last year, it estimates lfls growth of about 4% will be required for the company to match last year’s profits.

Operating profit, before exceptional items, increased by 2.9% to £132.3m for the year with the operating margin, before exceptional items, increasing to 7.8% (2017: 7.7%).

Profit before tax and exceptional items increased by 4.3% to £107.2m.

The company opened six pubs during the year, with 18 sold or closed, resulting in a trading estate of 883 pubs at the financial year end. It intends to open five to 10 pubs in the current financial year.

The group said the average development cost for a new pub (excluding the cost of freeholds) was £2.8m, compared with £2.3m a year ago. The full-year depreciation charge was £79.3m (2017: £73.9m).

Total capital investment was £110.1m in the period (2017: £208.1m). £35.9m was invested in new pubs and pub extensions (2017: £46.9m), £64.7m in existing pubs and IT (2017: £65.9m) and £9.5m in the acquisition of freehold reversions, where JDW was already a tenant (2017: £95.3m).

As at 29 July 2018, the company’s total net debt, excluding derivatives, was £726.2m, an increase of £29.9m.

Year-end net-debt-to-EBITDA was 3.39 times (2017: 3.39 times).

As at 29 July 2018, the company had £133.9m of unutilised banking facilities and cash or cash equivalents, with total facilities of £860m.

Chairman Tim Martin said: “There will be a huge gain for business and consumers if the UK copies the free trade approach of countries like Singapore, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Israel, by slashing protectionist EU import taxes (‘tariffs’), on leaving the EU in March next year.

“These invisible tariffs are charged on over 12,000 non-EU products, including rice, oranges, coffee, wine and children’s clothes. The proceeds are collected by the UK taxman and sent to Brussels.

“Ending tariffs will reduce shop and pub prices, improve living standards, and will help non-EU suppliers, currently discouraged by tariffs, quotas and the extensive paraphernalia of EU protectionism.

“If parliament votes to end tariffs and rejects the ‘Chequers Deal’, consumers and business will benefit additionally by avoiding a cost of £39 billion, or £60 million per UK constituency, in respect of the EU ‘divorce payment’ - for which there is no legal obligation.

“Parliament can also regain control of UK fishing waters, where 60% of the catch is currently taken by EU boats.

“Unfortunately, some individuals, businesses and business organisations have mistakenly, or misleadingly, repeated the myth that food prices will rise without a ‘deal’ with the EU.

“In fact, the only way prices can rise post-Brexit is if parliament votes to impose tariffs. The EU will have no say in the matter, provided that the government does not sign away the UK’s rights in a ‘deal’ in the meantime.”