Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin ‘worried’ by Jeremy Corbyn’s business stance
Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin said he is “worried” about Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to business at the pub group’s annual general meeting (AGM) in central London.
The colourful company chairman also said he is “all for” a slump in consumer confidence, despite economic uncertainty weighing on customer spending over the past year.
Mr Martin said he is worried that the Labour Party leader “doesn’t have enough belief in the power of the free market”, as well as criticising the possibility of a second Brexit referendum under the opposition leader.
He added: “A leaflet was sent to every household in the country to say that this is a once-in-a-generation decision, saying the Government will implement what you decide.
“I don’t think you can go back now and say that this will be the first-ever UK representative referendum that hasn’t been honoured.”
Economists have said that concerns over Brexit have weighed on consumer spending over the past year, but the businessman said a “lack of consumer confidence is a good thing”.
Mr Martin said: “I think the country and consumers are pretty resilient and I think sometimes people are too concerned about consumer confidence.
“Only about two years ago, the main worry was that consumers were over-confident and they were spending too much on their credit cards. That thankfully is gone, so I’m all for consumers lacking a bit of confidence.”
At the AGM, shareholders voted in support of all of the firm’s resolutions, backing the publication of the company’s annual report.
Prior to the meeting, shareholder advisory groups had called on investors to vote against the pub firm’s annual report at the AGM because of its spending on pro-Brexit materials.
Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (PIRC) said shareholders should oppose the report after questions were raised over its spending of almost £95,000 on pro-Brexit beer mats before the 2016 referendum.
Legal experts claimed the chain appeared to have broken company law by buying and distributing the 1.9 million beermats backing exit from the EU.
Last week, Mr Martin criticised the advisory group and dismissed UK corporate governance laws as “up the spout”.
He also hit out at one of the company’s biggest shareholders for voting against two board members at the pub chain’s annual general meeting last year.
On trading, Wetherspoon revealed sales were up 5.3% in the 13 weeks to October 27 on a like-for-like basis, with one pub opened and four shut.