/ Save The White Lion, Mitcham!
J. D. Wetherspoon is planning to close the popular The White Lion of Mortimer at the heart of Mitcham.
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Update so far:
Three Wetherspoon pubs in south-west London and north Surrey are among 33 in London put up for sale by the chain: Walton's Regent, Putney's Railway and Mitcham's White Lion of Mortimer Wetherspoon
A Wetherspoons spokesman said the pubs will 'continue to run as normal until or if [they] will be sold.’ - Other London Wetherspoon pubs to close include branches in Dagenham, Forest Hill, Fulham, Hammermith, Islington, and North Finchley
But recently there’s been a huge amount of investment in Mitcham Town center, the benefit of which will be felt by the White Lion soon - so far a total of £6m investment by council. And now the ‘Rediscover Mitcham’ town centre regeneration project will see the development of a new bus street on London Road, which is due to start this summer. This follows the release of funding from Transport for London in line with the Mayor of London’s, London’s Great Outdoors programme.
The demand for places to go and things to do in Mitcham is rising rapidly.
- The average age of people living in Cricket Green ward is now under 35.
- Ethnic diversity has increased by over 50% since 2001.
- New Housing developments such as on the old gasworks site are drawing new people into the area. This is generating new demands and Mitcham is changing.
- In recent years, Figges Marsh & Cricket Green percentage of economically active people (more likely to have disposable income) has increased by 4%, to 71%
The situation of JD Wetherspoon's profits is more complex. In 2015, it reported a 25% fall in pretax profits to £58.7m despite a rise in like-for-like sales of 3.3% The owner has cited the introduction of the National Living Wage as the reason why so many underperforming pubs will have to close. He has also cited that the ‘price differential’ especially in poorer areas means that already under performing pubs are doing so much worse (cheap alcohol in supermarkets undercutting Wetherspoon prices)
He has stressed that pub wages represent about 30% of sales and a pint purchased in a pub at the national average price of about £3.50 will represent about 85p in wages. “In contrast, a pint bought in a supermarket, at an estimated price of £1, will only represent about 10 pence of supermarket wages, since their wage percentage and selling prices are both far lower those of pubs,” he said.
Martin has long campaigned about the disparity between pubs being charged 20% VAT on food sales while supermarkets are charged nothing, allowing the big grocers to subsidise alcohol sales. But at the same time, Wetherspoons has opened five new pubs and sold two over the course of the last financial year o Wetherspoon has defied the decline of the pub industry in Britain by charging low prices, serving food and coffee and extending opening hours, but the feeling is company had little room for manoeuvre on prices or staff costs.
BUT Tim Martin, Wetherspoon founder, should be much brighter with the Brexit outcome he campaigned for. Mr Martin said Wetherspoons was hit badly by tax disparity between supermarkets and pubs as he issued a plea to George Osborne, the Chancellor, to ease the tax burden on the "overtaxed" industry. - Tim Martin visits at least 10 Wetherspoon pubs a week – could he come to Mitcham to meet Siobhain and see its potential?
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