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Wick pub sale attracts interest

By Gordon Calder

INTEREST has been shown in the JD Wetherspoon pub in Wick which has been put up for sale – although a company spokesman said yesterday it is "very early days yet".

The pub in Market Square is one of 16 across the UK which the company plans to sell for what have been described as "commercial reasons".

Asked if there had been any interest in the Wick pub, a spokesman said: "We have had expressions of interest to date." But he would not give any further details.

He said there is "no quoting price" for the premises as J D Wetherspoon, which owns the pub chain, is "inviting offers".

"We will wait and see if it will sell but in the meantime it will continue to trade as normal," the spokesman said.

"The decision to put the Wetherspoon pub [named after the 19th-century Watten inventor Alexander Bain] in Wick up for sale may have come as a surprise to customers but the company has looked at its estate and made the decision for commercial reasons," he added.

The JD Wetherspoon pub in Wick.
The JD Wetherspoon pub in Wick.

J D Wetherspoon's profits for the six months to the end of January fell by nearly a fifth to £50.3 million compared with a year ago, although there was an increase in sales. Margins suffered because of rising labour costs. Revenue increased 7.1 per cent to £889.6m.

The fall in profit was blamed on rising costs, most of which were attributed to higher wages, which added £33 million to overall costs.

The company anticipates an unchanged trading outcome for the current financial year.

The decision to put the Wick Wetherspoon pub up for sale earlier this year left its 30 full-time and part-time staff facing an uncertain future.

They were told that if the pub is sold and they do not transfer to the purchaser then the company will do everything it can to assist them, including offering relocation to other Wetherspoon pubs.

At the time, far north MSP Gail Ross described the decision to sell the pub as "a big shock" and added: "It is really disappointing such a big business is pulling out of the town. Uncertainty for the staff is a worry but there is some comfort in the fact it may not close."

John Bogle, secretary of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council, said he was surprised the decision was a commercial one. "The Wick Wetherspoon was as busy, if not busier, than some in other parts of the country but they probably had higher delivery costs here," he said.

"Wetherspoon has been an established part of the scene in the town for some time and it always seems to be busy with folk from Wick and other parts of the county as well as visitors. I would hope it could be sold as a going concern and would not want to see a great big building like that empty in the town centre."

Wetherspoon opened at the former post office in Market Square in May 2003.

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