JD Wetherspoon’s pre-tax profits fell 13% in the last year because of the smoking ban, but the chain’s sales, which were down by 1.1% for the year as a whole, crept back up to 1.1% (year-on-year sales for the five weeks to 31 August) thanks to a focus on food. The company, which has almost 500 pubs in Britain, made £54m in the year to the end of June, down from £62m last year. Chief executive John Hutson said it faced extremely stretching sales targets if it was to prevent annual profits from shrinking by the end of next summer. Chairman Tim Martin called for a five-year suspension of beer duty increases to ease the woes of the hospitality industry, and blamed government over-regulation for pushing up costs. The Daily Telegraph (Business) 06/09/08 page 29 The Daily Mail (City & Finance) 06/09/08 page 108 The Guardian (Financial) 06/09/08 page 36 Financial Times (Companies) 06/09/08 page 16 The Independent (Business) 06/09/08 page 48