JD Wetherspoon (JDW), the managed pub group, has unveiled like-for-like sales growth of 1.0% in the 11 weeks to 11 July 2010 and reported that the performance of its latest openings was “encouraging”. In a pre-close statement it said that total sales for the same period had increased by 5.8%. Describing sales, profit and cashflow as “resilient” it said year-to-date like-for-like sales were marginally up at 0.1% - and total sales for the 50 weeks had increased by 4.4%. It added that the current market conditions meant it thought there were “substantial opportunities” to acquire sites for reasonable prices. It has opened 41 pubs during the year, disposed of two and plans to open six more before the end of its current financial year. The operator, which recently started opening its estate at 7am and now serves breakfast coffee for 49p, said it anticipated operating margins before exceptionals for the second half of its financial year to be in the region of 10%. In a statement, JDW said: “The company is in a sound financial position, with net debt to ebitda currently at approximately 2.8x. Free cashflow in the year-to-date has been strong, enabling us to open 47 new pubs and pay a dividend of £26.2m, while maintaining net debt levels which are similar to the prior year. “Our sales, profit and cashflow continue to be resilient and the performance of our recently opened pubs is encouraging. In addition, as previously indicated, we continue to believe there are substantial opportunities for us to acquire sites at reasonable prices.” It concluded: “Although our interest charges next year will be higher and the economy has taxation and employment pressures, the company is confident of a resilient performance for the next financial year.” JDW will announce its preliminary results on 10 September.