x(Reuters) -British pub group J D Wetherspoon Plc on Friday posted a return to half-year profit and said sales in recent weeks have topped pre-pandemic levels.
“Supply or delivery issues have largely disappeared, for now, and were probably a phenomenon of the stresses induced by the worldwide reopening after the pandemic,” Chairman Tim Martin said in a statement.
Martin said he was “cautiously optimistic” on the company’s outlook for the year and the years ahead.
British inflation unexpectedly rose to 10.4% in February, pushed up by higher food and drink prices in pubs and restaurants.
“We expect 2023 to be a grind for pubs, with companies and consumers facing cost headwinds and a sluggish economy,” analysts at Stifel said in a note.
The pub chain, sometimes referred to “‘Spoons”, is priced lower than others in Britain. Its shares were up 4% in early trade.
It reported a half-year profit of 4.6 million pounds ($5.7 million) versus a loss of 21.3 million in a year earlier.
It said sales in the seven weeks to March 19 were 9.1% above 2019 levels and 14.9% above a year earlier.
($1 = 0.8149 pounds)
(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; editing by Rashmi Aich and Jason Neely)