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Wetherspoon owner explains why he took John Smith's off the menu

Jake Massey

| Last updated 

Wetherspoon owner explains why he took John Smith's off the menu

The owner of J D Wetherspoon has explained why the chain has stopped serving John Smith's ale. Watch here:


Tim Martin founded the pub giant back in 1979, and over the decades since he's made plenty of controversial decisions - some more popular than others.

John Smith's fans were left gutted when Spoons announced late last year that it would no longer be serving the ale, and speaking at the Cambridge Union in May, Martin explained how he reached the difficult decision.


"John Smith's is brewed by Heineken, and Heineken was our biggest supplier for 40 years," the 67-year-old said.

"They also make Heineken, Foster's lager, Kronenberg lager, Newcastle Brown - iconic product - and many others. And we had a 7/10-year deal with them, the latest deal, which ended at Christmas. And as is their prerogative, they wanted to put the price up."

John Smith's disappeared from the pub chain. Credit: Izel Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
John Smith's disappeared from the pub chain. Credit: Izel Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

He continued: "So we looked around and got a 10-year-deal with AB InBev - who are the biggest brewer in the world - at slightly lower prices.


"And we managed to get Worthington - 200-year-old beer, same strength as John Smith's. But of all the products we changed, it was flipping John Smith's... Drinkers promised they'd walk out, they'd walk out if it wasn't available.

"But we managed to persuade them to stay - but they're awkward b******s... That's a failed joke, by the way."

More recently, Martin said Wetherspoon is facing 'a momentous challenge' to persuade pub-goers back into its bars after they got used to drinking cheap supermarket beer during the pandemic.

Martin revealed that while his business had cut losses significantly, it has still not managed to return to a profit since the pandemic, and sales remain lower than in 2019.


"During lockdown, dyed-in-the-wool pub-goers, many for the first time, filled their fridges with supermarket beer – and it has proved to be a momentous challenge to persuade them to return to the more salubrious environment of the saloon bar," he said earlier this month.

Total sales rose from £773 million to more than £1.7 billion in the year to the end of July. But sales were still behind the more than £1.8 billion the company made in 2019.

The same story could be seen on pre-tax losses, which were cut from £167 million before exceptional items last year, to just £30.4 million this year. Before the pandemic the company made a profit of £132 million.

It opened seven new pubs during the year, and sold, closed or ended the leases on 15 others. In July the business ran 852 pubs across its estate.

Featured Image Credit: Kay Roxby / Alamy Stock Photo / REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: UK News, Food And Drink

Jake Massey
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