SHARES in JD Wetherspoon leapt six per cent this morning as the pub giant declared it is likely to generate record sales in its current financial year, after recording “exceptionally strong” trading over the two May bank holiday weekends, with profits expected to come in at the upper end of expectations.

But the company, which also declared sales at Easter were its highest ever, warned inflation “remains a more intractable issue”.

Wetherspoon, which has around 70 pubs in Scotland, said it witnessed its “busiest-ever Saturday” during the traditional bank holiday weekend at the start of May.

That was followed by “slightly less strong” over the coronation weekend, which saw a “noticeably quiet Saturday”. Wetherspoon suggested the coronation may have benefited sales more in the off-trade than pubs, clubs, and restaurants.

Like-for-like sales increased by 9.1% in the 13 weeks to April 30 compared with the same period in the last full financial year before the pandemic, which ended on July 28, 2019. Wetherspoon said. Year-to-date sales increased by 6.4% compared with the same year.

Founder and chairman Tim Martin said: “Lockdowns and associated restrictions have had more profound and longer-lasting consequences than most economists, politicians and commentators predicted.

“Sales in the last quarter have continued their positive momentum, although inflation, especially in labour, energy, and food costs, remains a more intractable issue."

“In order to bear down on inflation, political parties should encourage free enterprise, rather than a reliance on additional regulations. A lack of understanding, among some senior politicians, about the need to encourage a successful free market economy, presents a real threat to the future prosperity of the country.

“The company expects profits in the current financial year to be towards the top of market expectations.”

Wetherspoon said it currently has 30 trading pubs on the market for sale or under offer. It has a trading estate of 834 pubs at present, and had 42,839 employees at the end of the third quarter.