J D Wetherspoon (JDW) is seeing a resurgence across multiple parts of its offer, with cocktails, wine, breakfast, and coffee all seeing strong sales, chairman Tim Martin tells MCA.

The 826-strong pubco reported total revenue of £1.9bn for FY23 and like-for-like growth of 12.7%, with “impressive profit growth” as underlying operating profit nearly doubled to £106m.

“Wine is resurgent, especially New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc,” Martin says. “Real ale is rocking.

“Cocktails are shooting the lights out…katsu curry is going well as the mighty Wetherspoon muscles in on Wagamama.”

The chain is “investing heavily” in kitchens, staff rooms, and gardens, which has also driven trading, and is doing well from a retention perspective.

“The average pub manager tenure is now 14 years and the average kitchen manager, about 11,” Martin adds. “Experience helps.

“Wetherspoon has more pubs in the GBG, is top of the local authorities’ scores on the doors and has the best staff retention in the industry…competitive prices certainly help!”

The pubco’s “leaner, meaner” estate and value offering leave it better placed than most to handle choppy waters, according to analyst Hargreaves Lansdown.

Hargreaves Lansdown noted that all revenue streams have risen above pre-pandemic levels, with lfl sales 17.3% ahead of 2019 so far this year.

“Margins also recovered well last year. The group notes increasing certainty over cost inflation, giving cause for hope that margins can keep going in the same direction.

“The shares have had a great run this year but are still under water compared to pre-pandemic levels. However, there is still some pressure to deliver.”

The group also made “meaningful inroads” into its debt pile, with underlying net debt down by £250m to £642m, enabled by strong free cash flow, the prudent sale of interest rate swaps, and proceeds from reducing the size of the estate, according to Hargreaves Lansdown.

Despite warnings of an economic slowdown, the pubco is better places than most, the analyst says.