16 December 2022

UK pub chain Wetherspoon has put up nearly 40 pubs for sale

United Kingdom | Wetherspoon hopes to sell off 39 of its 842 venues across the UK amid the cost-of-living crisis. The sales are reportedly due to spiralling inflation, pushing up bills for staff and supplies. Luckily, the pubs will remain open and trading under the Wetherspoon brand until they have found a buyer.

Wetherspoon has warned it could face losses of GBP 30 million (USD 37 million) this year.

Soaring wages and utility bills are not the only worries upsetting the pub operator. In November already, Wetherspoon had to change its Full English Breakfast menu. A national shortage of eggs, due to the impact of Avian flu, forced some Wetherspoon pubs to completely cut back.

Number of UK pubs at record low

Wetherspoon clearly believes it will find a buyer for its 39 pubs. However, many other pubs do not. Media report that a licensed venue closed every hour in Britain during the third quarter of 2022, indicating that the nation’s pubs are “vanishing” at an alarming rate. In the first half of 2022, the total number of pubs dropped below 40,000, a record low. The UK still counted more than 47,000 pubs a decade ago.

Hospitality industry bodies have warned that more than one-third of the sector is at risk of failure in early 2023, not least because of the rising cost of doing business.

Publicans and restaurateurs are also concerned that transport strikes could add to their woes if Christmas parties are cancelled. The industry believes strike action by rail workers in December 2022 alone could cost the trade GBP 1.5 billion (USD 1.9 billion) in sales.

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