JD Wetherspoon has warned that fuel, energy, food and labour costs will all increase in the next year – and lays the blame squarely at the Government. In a pre-close statement the managed operator said: “In the next financial year (commencing 28th July 2008), in common with other pub and restaurant businesses, we continue to expect a considerable increase in our costs, especially in energy, food, labour and tax,” a spokesman said. “Although it is widely believed that current inflationary costs stem from external sources, a significant proportion of our cost increases (especially excise duty and labour cost increases) stem from Government legislation.” It reported a 1% fall in like-for-like sales for the 50 weeks to 27 July in the pre-close statement. Overall sales for the period were up 2.2% and like-for-likes saw an increase of 0.4% for the 11 weeks to 13 July. But sales were ahead of the predicted results, which were expected to follow the 3.1% decline in like-for-likes seen in the second quarter. The company said increased marketing was the reason for this. JD Wetherspoon opened 23 new pubs this financial year and one further opening is also expected to take place. The pre-close statement added: “The company remains in a sound financial position and continues to generate strong free cashflow. In the current financial year we have financed cash dividend payments of £17m, share buy-backs of £12m and the opening of 23 new pubs to date, with a minimal increase in debt.”