Wetherspoon boss sells £5m of shares in pub chain

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has sold £5 million worth of shares in his pub chain just days after warning new coronavirus restrictions will keep almost half of his sites shut.

Mr Martin offloaded 431,500 of the company’s shares at a price of £11.66 each on Tuesday, leaving the firm’s founder and chairman with a 27% stake.

He also sold £5 million worth of shares in the summer.

A spokesman for Wetherspoon declined to comment on the latest sale.

Coronavirus – Sun Sep 20, 2020
Tim Martin is founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon (Henry Nicholls/PA)

The move was announced on the day pubs are allowed to reopen across England under Tiers 1 and 2 after the one-month lockdown.

But they must only serve alcohol with a substantial meal, while pubs under Tier 3 must remain closed except for takeaway, drive-through and delivery only.

Mr Martin last Friday accused the Government of extending “a form of lockdown by stealth” as he said 366 of its pubs will still remain closed in light of new tiered measures.

Since then, he has said all his 51 pubs in Wales will also close as the country tightens restrictions again to deal with a resurgence of cases after its firebreak ended.

Share sales by management are often seen as a bad sign by investors.

Wetherspoon shares have plummeted from more than £16 before the pandemic struck to a low of £5.59 in March as pubs were ordered to shut ahead of the spring lockdown.

The stock has recently rallied a little, hitting £12.46 at one stage on Wednesday – its highest since early March.

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