Wetherspoon boss denies worker shortage caused by Brexit

The boss of pub chain JD Wetherspoon has denied reports that his pubs have been hit by staff shortages due to Brexit.

Tim Martin, who was a vocal supporter of the UK leaving the European Union, told investors on Wednesday that a Daily Telegraph story “misrepresented Wetherspoon’s position”.

He said it “clearly isn’t true” that the pub group is facing staff shortages following the reopening of hospitality venues across the UK.

On Tuesday, the Telegraph published a story titled “Wetherspoons boss calls for more EU migration as bars and restaurants tackle staff shortage”, with other hospitality operators also highlighting staffing concerns as the recent reopening resulted in a surge in customer demand.

Trade group UK Hospitality has said that staffing has been a challenge, with Brexit adding to this issue as many EU workers returned to the continent.

Wetherspoon financials
Wetherspoon has reopened all of its pubs after indoor hospitality was allowed to welcome customers again last month (Tim Ireland/PA)

Mr Martin, founder and executive chairman of the group, said on Wednesday that he told the reporter the pub giant is in a “reasonably good position” regarding applications for new roles across the country.

However, he added that “recruitment is more challenging in some seaside towns – but that’s no different to what we experience in any year”.

Mr Martin stressed that he still supports an “Australia-style immigration points system” with the potential for preferential visas for countries in close proximity to the UK.

“I was trying to be helpful to the journalist by providing up-to-date anecdotal information on staffing, which clearly demonstrated a very positive situation for Wetherspoon,” he said.

“However, my comments were misreported.

“The false story, expressed in the headline ‘Wetherspoons boss calls for more EU migration as bars and restaurants tackle staff shortage’ and expressed or implied elsewhere in the article, was that Wetherspoon was suffering staff shortages, which clearly isn’t true, and that I had subsequently been moved to change my stance on immigration, which, as my evidence to the parliament clearly shows, isn’t true either.”

Shares in JD Wetherspoon were down 1.6% after early trading on Wednesday.