Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Companies Today

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Companies Today

Article excerpt

COST PREESURES Rising costs have taken the shine off strong trading at JD Wetherspoon after it handed its staff a 5% pay increase and it was hit by higher utility bills.

The chain, which has more than 900 pubs and about 29,000 hourly-paid staff, reported that like-for-like sales increased by 6.3% in the 13 weeks to October 26 following a surge in business during August and September.

However, the pace of growth decreased in October while the month also saw a number of cost increases, such as the wage rise and those from suppliers.

Shares fell by more than 4% after Wetherspoon said its operating margin fell to 7.7% in the period.

FIRST FOR PROFITS FirstGroup posted a jump in half-year profits after a rise in the number of people using its trains and buses kept its turnaround plan on track.

The Aberdeen-based group, which employs 117,000 people and has operations in the UK and North America, said pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of September leapt 69.9% on a year earlier to PS33.3m.

Like-for-like passenger volumes in its UK bus division increased by 2. …

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