Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has revealed the chain is facing higher costs for food, drink and energy – as pub sales start to return to normal.
His remarks came as Wetherspoons reported a half-year loss of £ 13m but said sales in the most recent three-week period were just 2.6% below pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
The company, which operates more than 800 pubs, put up its prices by an average 10p a pint around the country and 20p in London earlier this month.
Mr Martin said: “There is pressure on input costs from food, drink and energy suppliers, mitigated to an extent, by a number of long-term contracts.”
He also said the government’s costly COVID-19 policies and the Bank of England’s quantitative easing were to blame for “significant inflation and higher taxes”.
Recent price pressures throughout the economy are generally attributed to soaring energy costs as well as supply chain hold-ups as businesses readjust to a post-lockdown world.
The impact on inflation of the Bank of England’s quantitative easing policies – sometimes described as money printing – in which it buys billions of pounds worth of bonds, or small parcels of government debt, is less well understood.
Wetherspoons’ latest results showed it narrowed pre-tax losses to £ 13m for the six months to 23 January, compared with a £ 68m loss a year earlier, with sales of £ 807m that were 13.5% lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Mr Martin said: “Following a traumatic two years for many businesses and people, the ending of COVID restrictions has brought a return to more normal trading patterns in recent weeks.
“Draconian restrictions, which amount to a lockdown-by-stealth, are, of course, kryptonite for hospitality, travel, leisure and many other businesses.
“The company is confident of a strong future if restrictions are avoided.”
He also brushed off any concerns about worker or supply shortages, saying: “Contrary to some reports, the company has a full complement of staff and is fully stocked, with some minor exceptions.”