Beer for breakfast - Wetherspoon's to open at 7am

JD Wetherspoon has held a significant place in Britain's towns and cities for some years now. But these days the pub chain is setting its sights on cornering an as yet untapped market in the licensing industry – breakfast.

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Taking advantage of 24-hour licensing laws, your local Wetherspoon's will now be opening its doors at 7am for breakfast and by 9am you'll be able to buy a pint with your fry-up. But Tim Martin, chief of the pub giant, insists that Britain's alcohol issues are not the fault of extended licensing hours and the blame should not be laid at the door of landlords.

He claims that current laws preventing pubs from selling booze to under-18s are "draconian" and may be the root cause of our binge-drinking youngsters. He told the Daily Mail: "The crackdown on pubs may actually exacerbate the problems of binge drinking, since it has resulted in more drinking, especially by young people, in the unsupervised environments of parties, streets and parks."

The chain has for some time been open at 9am and, since extending its opening hours, takings have been up by a whopping 17.5 per cent. In fact Mr Martin says that Wetherspoon is now "the second or third biggest coffee chain" in the country and 7am opening will only boost profits further.

A spokesman for the chain said: "Only about one per cent of people who come in at 9am will want an alcoholic drink and we are happy to serve them, why shouldn't we." He added: "But this is not what we are after, we want to target the breakfast market."

However, with binge drinking blighting many of Britain's towns and cities already, will opening early doors only serve to encourage all-day boozing?