The Brexit-supporting chairman of JD Wetherspoon has warned EU “threats” during the divorce negotiations could result in the pub chain switching to suppliers outside the bloc.
Tim Martin – never one to hold back his opinions on Brussels – used the release of his company’s annual results to urge EU officials to “take a wise-up pill” and recognise they risked scoring an economic own goal in their demands of the UK.
He said: “In the current negotiations, democratically-elected politicians from the UK are dealing with unelected oligarchs from the EU.
“Since the oligarchs are not subject to judgement at the ballot box, their approach is dictated by more sectarian factors – the interests and ideology of EU apparatchiks like them, rather than residents or businesses from EU countries.
“As a result of their current posturing and threats, EU negotiators are inevitably encouraging importers like Wetherspoon to look elsewhere for supplies.
“This process is unlikely to have adverse effects on the UK economy, as companies will be able to switch to suppliersrepresenting the 93% of the world’s population which is not in the EU, but this evolution will eventually be highly damaging to the economy of the EU.
“Wetherspoon is extremely confident that it can switch from EU suppliers, if required, although we would be very reluctant to initiate such actions.”
The FTSE 250 firm announced record sales and profits for its last financial year – suggesting little harm from a weaker pound raising its import costs.
It reported a 15.6% increase in profit before tax to £76.4m in the 53 weeks to 30 July on sales of almost £1.7bn – up 4% on the previous year.
The company said strong summer trade since the end of its financial year meant that comparable sales were up 6.1% – but it did not expect that performance to continue and its profit expectations for 2017/18 were unchanged.
Shares were up more than 7% when trading opened.