Pub operator Wetherspoon to seek debt waivers as sales remain weak

British pub operator Wetherspoon (JDW.L) said on Wednesday it plans to seek debt waivers from its lenders for the next financial year, as like-for-like sales continued to slump despite the easing of pandemic restrictions.

The company said like-for-like bar and food sales slipped 49% between April 12 and May 16, a period when outdoor dining was permitted albeit with some restrictions, while sales were still down 14.6% between May 17 and July 4 when pubs were fully open.

Wetherspoon, popularly known as just “Spoons”, slumped into a first-half loss in March and has had to remove hundreds of employees and raise money to get through the health crisis, which forced its pubs shut all through the key Christmas season last year.

The British government, which started easing some of the curbs earlier this year, announced plans this week to lift all restrictions on July 19.

The company, which currently has most of its 860 pubs open, reiterated that it expects to make a loss for the year ending July 25. It expects its net debt to fall to 833 million pounds by the end of this financial year from 865 million as at July 4.

Wetherspoon plans to open 18 new pubs and upgrade 57 others, and will invest roughly 750 million pounds on similar projects in the next 10 years.