JD Wetherspoon shares plummeted 56.5p, or 12%, on Friday. The pub group had just reported interim profits up 31% and sales up 30% and that it was still on course to open 100 new sites during the year.

What upset the City, however, was that like-for-like sales during February were up only 3%, compared to the double-digit growth for the same time last year, and the 6% growth over the last six months. As far as the industry as a whole goes, this is still a good result, but not good enough for the Stock Market.

Chairman Tim Martin says he is ignoring the City's reaction. That seems good advice.

Wetherspoon has become a favoured target, because it is the market leader. But it is also a maturing estate and how much more same store sales can be squeezed out of it?

Despite this, JDW is still tying to boost unit sales û this time by targeting the coffee market. Tim Martin says he will take on the likes of Starbucks and Costa and is considering opening all of JDW's 470 pubs early to take advantage of the morning passing trade.

JDW's main weapon will be price and it says its current coffee campaign has already doubled coffee sales. It is charging a third of Starbucks' price. The downside is that the promotion has already cut into margins.

It sounds a lot like PR hype, but if JDW is serious, the bigger question is whether this is a market it really understands and should get into. Evidence is that price is not a key factor û it is much more about quality and style.

There was plenty of cheap coffee around central London before the likes of Pret a Manger and Starbucks turned up and stoked the coffee revolution.

What these two companies in particular are about is passion and entrepreneurial drive û something Tim Martin should be familiar with. They are not faceless corporations that can be easily beaten. Indeed, they have a lot in common with Wetherspoons.

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz was in Europe only last week fanning his own PR flames and promising 1,000 plus units in the UK alone. Sounds familiar.

Schultz is an American hero these days and his company has now been voted most admired foodservice company in the US by Fortune magazine. Even, Tim Martin and Wetherspoon could learn a few lessons from these US cousins before taking them head on.

A short cut would be to buy Schultz's new book, called Pour Your Heart Into It, price £11.99 and published by Hyperion.

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