UK pub operator Wetherspoon warns of annual loss, eyes loan waivers
Adds chairman quote, outlook, sales
Aug 24 (Reuters) - British pub operator J D Wetherspoon Plc JDW.L on Monday forecast a loss for the year and said it was looking to seek waivers on its loans as it dealt with the financial fallout of months of coronavirus-driven pub closures and the social distancing steps since.
The company said sales had been helped by extra outside seating and also received a boost from the government's subsidised meal scheme but were still sharply lower compared with the year-ago period.
Sales are likely to fall further as the scheme winds down, Wetherspoon said, appealing to the government to maintain a lower value-added tax (VAT) rate for meals.
"The Company expects to make a loss for the year ending 26 July 2020, both before and after exceptional items. Some of these exceptional items will be related to the COVID-19 pandemic," Chairman Tim Martin said.
Wetherspoon, which has opened 844 of its 873 pubs, said like-for-like bar and food sales fell 16.9% for the 44 days to Aug. 16.
The company, whose cheaply priced pubs are a fixture of British towns and cities, had said earlier this month it will slash up to 130 jobs at its head office and scale back its expansion plans.
(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
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