JD Wetherspoon this morning announced a 4% fall in full-year pre-tax profit, blaming a slowdown in sales in the second half. The company also warned that sales in August were flat, which would affect profits. It also said it would reduce its openings this year to 15 sites, while the trading and political environment remains uncertain. Like-for-like sales growth fell from 4.8% in the first half to 1.9% in the second half of the financial year. The company blamed the fall on several factors, including greater competition from supermarkets, which it said were themselves responding to an increase in imports from the continent. Pre-tax profit before exceptionals for the year to 25 July was £54.1m, with pre-tax profit after exceptional items of £46.3m, down almost 12% from £52.5m in the previous year. Turnover for the year was up 8% to £787.1m, with operating profit up 4% to £77.6m. Operating margins were 9.9%, compared with 10.3% last year, mainly, the group said, as ‘a result of higher labour and other pub costs’. Tim Martin, the company’s chairman, said: "After a good first half, sales in the second half of the financial year slowed, which affected profits. "Looking forwards, we have several competitive pricing initiatives to drive sales, in what is a challenging competitive and political climate for pubs." Martin took the opportunity to comment on binge drinking, saying: "There can be no doubt that attitudes to drinking need to change in some sections of society, as has successfully been achieved in the area of drink driving. "However, it is doubtful whether binge drinking is a new phenomenon or uniquely applicable to young people or pubs. "We do not believe that competitive prices in our pubs lead to lower standards of behaviour. Companies like Wetherspoon and brewers such as Samuel Smith and Joseph Holt, as well as working men's clubs, have lower-than-average bar prices, but are not generally associated with rowdy behaviour in town centres on Friday and Saturday nights." The group opposed plans for minimum pricing schemes, commenting that this would improve the competitive position of supermarkets and encourage people to drink at home and elsewhere. Wetherspoon suggested instead a range of measures, such as those relating to selling-up, training and making food available all day in pubs.