JD Wetherspoon has put two pubs up for sale as chariman Tim Martin warned the pub industry would “inevitably shrink”.
The chain operates roughly 800 pubs around the UK and Ireland but has put 39 of their pubs on the market – including two across the region.
The group said it was a “commercial decision”.
Within the list, Durham’s Water House and Middlesbrough’s Resolution are listed as ‘up for sale’ – with buyers being sought for the venues.
While the pubs have gone up for sale it doesn’t mean that they will definitely close, and they will remain open as Wetherspoons pubs until they are sold.
JD Wetherspoon revealed that its sales at the end of 2022 were far higher than the previous year, after a particularly strong Christmas, but still lagging slightly behind pre-pandemic levels.
The hospitality chain, with runs 844 pubs in the UK and Ireland, said like-for-like sales surged by nearly 18% over the last three months of 2022, compared with the same period in 2021.
The group’s chairman, Tim Martin, said he feels the biggest threat to the hospitality industry is that pubs and restaurants are taxed unfairly, while supermarkets pay no VAT on food sales.
He said: “Supermarkets pay zero VAT in respect of food sales, whereas pubs and restaurants pay 20%. This tax benefit allows supermarkets to subsidize the selling price of beer.
“We estimate that supermarkets have taken about half of the pub industry’s beer volumes since Wetherspoon started trading in 1979, a process that has likely accelerated following the pandemic.
“Pub industry directors have, in general, failed to campaign for tax equality, which is an important principle of taxation.”
He added that the industry will “inevitably shrink” relative to supermarkets if it does not campaign strongly for tax equality.