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Wetherspoon boss says ‘no new pubs – but lots of investment’

PUBLISHED: 17:48 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 18:20 09 January 2019

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin talking at the Bell Inn, in Norwich

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin talking at the Bell Inn, in Norwich

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Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin wants to improve and expand his pubs in Norfolk and even add hotels.

Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin wants to improve and expand his pubs in Norfolk and even add hotels.

Mr Martin gave a speech at The Bell Inn, in Norwich, outlining his support for Brexit but said that although he had opened new pubs in Norfolk recently there were no plans for any more in the pipeline.

He said: “We are tending now, because we are in a lot of towns, to look at investing money in the facilities we already have. We spent £2m redeveloping what we have here.

“We did the same thing in Great Yarmouth and added a hotel, we have built a new pub in Gorleston but there aren’t a huge number of towns we are not in, we have nearly 900 pubs now so there will be a lot of investment in the facilities we already have.”

Wetherspoon open earlier than the majority of pubs and sell alcohol much cheaper, but Mr Martin told this paper he does not believe his chain is contributing to rivals’ closures or catering for problem drinkers.

“Most of our pubs are in city centres or town centres and I think, compared to villages or suburbs where we are not represented, other pubs have done quite well,” Mr Martin, who was born in Coltishall, said. “We do not want to get rid of every other pub around, we do much better when there are other pubs for people to go out to.

“We have no music. We rarely show football but other pubs do. We like to work in combination with pubs, shops and we hope we are a valuable part of the town centre.

“If we were catering to problem drinkers we would lose our licence or would not be allowed to serve early. I went into one of our pubs in Liverpool Street Station, which a lot of people from Norwich will know, and there were about a dozen people having a few pints. This was about 9am.

“I said to the manager ‘I didn’t realise people would be having a session at this time of the day’ and he said ‘it’s the police ... they’ve just come off shift’.”

Mr Martin was in Norwich to talk to punters about Brexit and he thinks leaving the European Union will be good for the country: “It is good for Norfolk because we can save £39bn – that is £600 for every man, woman and child in Norfolk and yes they will get it if the government injects that kind of money into the economy. In combination with more democracy that is a plus for the people of Norfolk.”

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