Are Spoons Feeling the Squeeze?

Wetherspoons have built up a very successful business model and a reputation for prospering in hard times. However, a number of subtle hints have appeared that suggest that every bargain boozer’s favourite pubco may be feeling the pinch.

First came the repricing of their guest ales. This has seen them remove the one-price-for-all charge and introduce different bands according to strength. A necessary measure, it was felt, to try and redress some of the lost revenue. Of course this is already common in other pubs, but was apparently opposed by some managers who were afraid of losing sales.

More recently came the revelation that despite selling some 400,000 breakfast each week, it wasn’t actually making much from them. Some analysts felt they had simply priced them too low. Makes a change for a pubco, I suppose.

Now two further changes are coming into force without too much publicity. One is that many of their pubs are abandoning their 7am opening and will now be opening at 8am instead. Seems that most people just weren’t ready for a pub visit that early in the morning.

By the way: My suggestion of raising revenue by selling booze to these early risers was deemed “impractical”. Note “impractical”, not "uneconomic”.

The second change is removing the option of the guest ale as part of the meal deals. This means reverting back to the days of old when you had to negotiate with the bar staff for that privilege. Which means even if you are willing to pay more, it’s pot luck whether the person can be bothered or indeed knows how to do it.

This is somewhat of a personal regret, as I was part of the campaign that got it changed it in the first place and my letter on the issue appeared in Wetherspoons News. Sadly the discrepancy between the likes of Ruddles and something decent has grown too large for them to ignore.

However, it’s not all bad news. As one idea is consigned to history, another one comes to fruition. Yes, the dream of a large veggie breakfast has finally become reality with the arrival of their new menu last week. But there’s more-cheese & tomato toasties as well!

If only they had tried my 7am boozing plan...


Barry said…
Gutted about the guest ale choice being scrapped. There is no way people will accept Ruddles or Tuborg as a substitute. Guess my steal club days will have to be curtailed from now on!
Tandleman said…
That is a pity. Not about Barry's Steal Club, but the guest ale bit.
Sue said…
A shame, but I'd be happy to settle for the glass of wine with my dinner instead.
Cooking Lager said…

Shows the Spoons in rude health. Any company changes it's offer from time to time to maximise revenue. It was always going to review the actuals against expected in regard to breakfast opening and adjust it.

As for the meal & drink deals, I like Lout & Guinness but it does surprise that the full cask offer isn't included as the cask range has the lowest retail price & biggest need for turnover. You'd think they would want to give you a lower priced pint of pong with it, that a higher priced Lout.

What the Spoons continue to show admirably though is that it possible to flog a pint for 2/3 of the price of other gaffs. Why be ripped off? Any punter with sense drinks at home or in a Spoons.
Tandleman said…
"Any punter with sense drinks at home or in a Spoons."

Ah. A shift of stance Cookie?
Cooking Lager said…
Not at all Tand. Drinking at home can only be the ideal solution when home is easily accessed. There are times we are all away from home and have to make do. In that circumstance the trick is not to get stung. In Blighty the Spoons offer that.
Hip-Hops said…
Spoons tend to serve good beer at the right temperature, in good condition. What puts me off is the atmosphere and their managers more freedom to design and run the pub (dim the lights, put out some candles, a bit of music where and when appropriate) would go some way to making it a more pleasant experience.
Tyson said…

I wasn't suggesting Spoons are on their last legs, merely that they may be tightening their belt.

The guest ale option as part of the meal deal has been going for years now and has survived tax rises and the like. Tha fact that they are now changing it, along with restructured pricing points to having to squeeze revunue streams.
RedNev said…
I'm sure they are feeling the squeeze in these difficult times, but I still maintain they are a PubCo that shows up all the rest for their greed and incompetence. That doesn't mean I think JDW is perfect, but their success provokes the question: if they can do it, why can't all the others with their much greater economies of scale? (Punch has nearly ten times the number of pubs that JDW has.)
Curmudgeon said…
Punch may have ten times the outlets of JDW, but JDW sell more cask beer (and probably more beer of all kinds) and will have more buying clout as all their pubs are managed. I've spotted their prices going up a bit too, although £2.05 for guest beers is still cheaper than all the competition.

I get the impression they're now trying to position themselves as 10-20% below mainstream pricing, as opposed to dirt cheap. Stella for £2.65 isn't that cheap.

Mind you, I recently paid £2.43 for a pint of Holts Bitter, in a Holts pub.
Tyson said…

I think that's a fair analysis of the current JDW thinking. And I think the days of Holts being the cheapest pint in town are long gone.

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