Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Pricey JDW?

Did you know there is a Yahoo Group for J D Wetherspoon supporters? Well there is and pretty informative it can be sometimes. You get the usual and well known issues of being unable to be served, tables not being cleared and the chips being cold, but one thing seems to be dominating at the moment. Prices.

 JDW seems to have applied a 6p a pint increase in most places, while in others, they seem to have applied more. One irate correspondent says that they now charge £2.89 a pint in a new pub in Whitby, which astutely was observed to be " a bit dear for Wetherspoons quality and service." Quite. And of course in London there are two other sets of prices, an "Inside the M25" one and a "City of London" one, both of which are considerably more ouchy price wise. And airport venues are even more.

 More ire is directed at JDW's budget response, where the decision to reduce the cheap end beers, Greene King IPA and Ruddles Best by 5p a pint, while, presumably, trousering the rest of any duty reductions passed on, is seen as taking the piss. Seems too the grub has gone up and the portion sizes have decreased and there are moans about the price premium for stronger beers as well as quibbles about the price of beer at the forthcoming beer festival. A slippery slope is being predicted.  Now this is mostly huff and puff. Apart from Central London, JDW for all its faults, remains cheap -  if not exactly cheerful, with reliable real ale and cut price lager. (Central London is quite another case, with some beer prices being nearly as much as some in the Euston Tap.  Extracting the urine from customers price wise is hardly a new phenomenon in London after all)

Now most of my readers won't care about this, but it is interesting in the sense that it send s a message that beer is becoming more costly, even at the budget end of  the market. It also says something about the pressures within the industry. Of course, like many of you I'm sure, while I do go into JDWs reasonably frequently, I'm not that worried about their prices, but I'm not their core audience. People like those on the Yahoo Group are, and they are sending a clear message of disgruntlement.

 Timbo Martin would do well not to alienate them and comments such as "Don't treat your loyal customers as fools!" should not be ignored.

The denizens of the Yahoo Group, oddly refer to individual pubs as "branches". Hmm.


Curmudgeon said...

Apparently the price went up on the Monday before the Budget. Having said that, £2.15 a pint is still the cheapest real ale in the area apart from Sam Smith's. It can also include beers up to 6% ABV.

Carlsberg, John Smith's and Strongbow are also £2.15 a pint, which arguably is even more of a bargain.

Spoons have a major supply deal with Carlsberg, and it's interesting that, while they do sell its chief rival Carling, that is a whacking £3.40 a pint, which certainly isn't cheap.

Cooking Lager said...

Whether you like Spoons or not they are a reasonably efficient operation so you would not expect cost pressures to be unique to them. Maybe an indication of price rises across most boozers? With the duty cut, can’t blame Gideon neither. If you consider Spoons to be some form of market leader then you might think it is a signal to other participants to maintain price differentials.

I wondered for a while what degree of Spoons success is down to pricing and what is down to factors like a wide mainstream choice & consistency of offer. A question that can only be answered by a narrowing of a price differential that has if anything widened over recent years.

The holy grail of the sub £2 pint for us value drinkers is now a Smiths thing.

Tyson said...

I've already let Tim know my feelings about only applying the reduction to the Ruddles end of the beer range.

A lot of the talk on the groups is just huff and bluff, really. There isn't any clear alternative to Spoons, so it's more a case of lump it, if not like it.

RedNev said...

I'll be in Whitby in August for Folk Week, and I'll certainly be checking the Angel (the new JDW pub/hotel). Whitby is a very expensive place to drink anyway; I've no idea why.

Benjamin Nunn said...

Despite the price hike, JDW are still competitive.

Controversially, I've said for years that I wouldn't mind if their pubs were a bit more expensive if that drove away some of the scratty element and standards improved a bit.

Take the top 2-3% of pubs out of the equation and JDWs are the most reliable places to get a decent pint and some semblance of choice. In some beer deserts they are the *only* option.

Stono said...

to be fair and this applies to any pub not just Wetherspoons, the cost increase/decrease to them of running their business that ultimate impacts the price they have to charge on stuff to make a profit, after a budget isnt solely down to beer duty increases/decrease

its how we always get into those why did beer go up 10p per pint if the duty only rose 2p or whatever debates :)

and Tim Martin (and not the only pub owner/landlord either) has always made that point that sure you can cut beer duty and stop the escalator, thats helpful, but he'll surely find his tax bill has still gone up somewhere else, and a 1p cut off beer per pint wont have paid for the 10p rise in other taxes (fruit machine taxes went up, theres that late night levy thing as well) he finds he has to pay out of the money he makes from selling you that beer.

so yeah I understand the unease with which a cut results in a rise, but Tim has always been up front there is alot more to the tax issue facing pubs than beer duty alone

saying that I do think their portions are getting stingier :) but you still cant beat their meal + pint for less than £5 when the defacto cost for a pint alone in London and parts of the SE is £4.

Stewart Flood said...

I knew it was all going wrong recently when they dropped Black Pudding from the breakfasts...they were usually served on the dry side but I rather enjoyed them, and that must be some overall saving for JDW?