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Wetherspoon rises but Sunak disappoints on pub support

Shares of JD Wetherspoon and Mitchells & Butlers rose after Chancellor Rishi Sunak provided limited support for the UK’s pubs in his budget.
Sunak extended the reduced 5% rate of VAT for hospitality businesses from 31 March to September followed by a still-lower rate of 12% until March 2022. The move should allow pubs currently shut under lockdown to benefit from lower VAT on food and soft drinks when they reopen.

Wetherspoon, which relies on food for about a third of its sales, were up 5.5% to £13.15 at 15:50 GMT though the shares were down from their session high of £13.32. M&B shares rose 5.2% but were also lower than their intraday peak.

There was no reduction of VAT on alcohol served in bars, leaving so-called wet-led pubs with no extra support though Sunak froze alcohol duty. Shares of Fuller, Smith & Turner, which brews its own beer and whose pubs rely more on alcohol sales, fell 4.5% to 854p.

Dawn Hopkins, vice-chair of the Campaign for Pubs, said: “Rishi Sunak either still doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the classic community-led pub as he has yet again discriminated against them with a food-only VAT cut that funnels millions to the likes of McDonald’s and KFC, who don’t need it but does nothing for wet-led pubs.”

Shares of Marston’s, which sold most of its brewing business to Heineken last year and whose pubs concentrate on serving meals, rose 3.6% to 98.96p. Young & Co, which sold no longer brews beer, rose 3.6% to £14.81.

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