3 Reasons Why I Drink Only At Wetherspoons

When the battle between money and a good drink has been lost to a hearty pint, here are three reasons why I always head to a Wetherspoons.

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JD Wetherspoon (LSE: JDW) was founded in 1979 when mullet-man Tim Martin opened his first pub in north London. Named after a teacher that couldn’t control the class, Wetherspoon has matured into a well-oiled machine.

Paul Hickman, an analyst at KBC Peel Hunt, once said during an interview with The Independent that Wetherspoon was “absolutely obsessive about operating standards.

He adds: I see Wetherspoon as an operator of retailing systems rather than just another pub company. It has more in common with Tesco and Domino’s Pizza, in terms of having a well-defined and coherent set of systems.

Indeed, the chain’s recent annual results revealed encouraging figures. Operating profit climbed 4%, or £4m, to £111m while earnings rose 13% to 47p per share.

A solid 6% sales increase and a tidy full-year dividend of 12p per share make the colloquially termed ‘Spoons’ a healthy purchase for shareholders.

From sales to ales, below are my personal top three reasons why I drink only at Wetherspoon:

1. Design to be proud of

Steeped in British nostalgia, Wetherspoon pubs generally possess a charming, endearing quality that can be attributed to old-wood furnishings, homages to bygone owners — often taking the form of large plaques or paintings — and a very calm and social ambience.

One thing I really can’t stand is a pub that’s cramped and funnels you to the bar as cattle while you bump into other disgruntled patrons. Wetherspoon pubs always sport open-plan layouts, which really help to minimise the herding and are generally far more pleasant to socialise in.  

The chain is also renowned for refurbishing old local landmarks, offering a splash of character and heritage to every pub. Previous sites include cinemas and theatres, as well as a post office in Southend and a swimming pool in Sheffield.

2. The price tag

Sure, grandiose and lavish bars can be nice but they’re usually accompanied by a hefty entry fee and a premium on everything from coat hangers to a glass of tap water.

Wetherspoon’s free entry is an edge over the competition which, as you’ll find out below, comprises mostly of nightclubs and the odd independent pub. 

A 900-strong chain of properties can never boast the ‘cheapest’ goods — especially when shareholders have a stake in the business — but I’ve never seen a Spoons that isn’t bustling with customers during visits. In 2009, Wetherspoon served 1.5 million meals a week, including 254,000 breakfasts and 75,000 curries, in addition to half a million cups of coffee.

3. Late opening hours

If alcohol ceased to exist, one thing to remain would probably be the stories — audacious tales that involved late-night escapades and a few too many pints of the pub’s own brew.

Late-night openings give Wetherspoon two benefits: a trump over most of the local pubs that don’t carry a late-closing license and a benefit to local customers who’d like to sit and chat just that little bit longer.

Beyond midnight your options are typically ‘Spoons’ or a nightclub, so if you’re not a fan of body-pumping clubs with an entry fee of between two and twenty quid, take a seat in a Wetherspoon for some good food and good atmosphere — most of the time.

A worthy mention

No dramatic pub tale begins with “…and then I began to shout loudly across the table“. I find music to be one of the quickest ways to end an engaging conversation.

So the lack of music, particularly in the evening, is really welcome — no one is alienated by song choices and there’s no struggle to hear what the other person is saying — dialect depending.

Tim Martin was also going to receive a worthy mention, but that hair..!

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

Disclosure: Douglas does not own any share mentioned in this article.

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