J D Wetherspoon plc, branded as Wetherspoon and popularly known as Wetherspoon's or Spoon's, is a pub chain in the UK and Republic of Ireland, with its headquarters in Watford. Founded in 1979 by Tim Martin, the company owns just under 1,000 outlets. The chain's pubs offer cask ale, hot food, low prices, long opening hours, and no music. The company also operates the Lloyds No.1 chain of bars, as well as Wetherspoon Hotels.
The chain is known for converting unconventional premises into pubs. Premises tend to be large by British pub standards, and use an open plan layout.
The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
Tim Martin opened his first pub in 1979, on Colney Hatch Lane in Muswell Hill, north London. Many of the other early Wetherspoon pubs were also in the western part of Haringey. The J D Wetherspoon name comes from one of Martin's teachers in New Zealand who could not control his class.
Martin chose the name when he was running his first pub in Muswell Hill. "I decided to call it Wetherspoon's after a former teacher – not because the teacher in question at my primary school in New Zealand had said I would never make it, as some people think, but because he was too nice a fellow to be running our particular class and he couldn't control it. So I thought: I can't control the pub, he couldn't control the class, so I'll name it after him."The "JD" part of the name was named after Dr JD Watson, whom Tim Martin met on holiday in Castlerock, Northern Ireland.
In the early 1990s, Wetherspoon began a policy of routinely selling off its smaller or less profitable outlets, often—but not always—replacing them with larger premises close by. There are now around 100 ex-Wetherspoon pubs, and none of the earliest outlets in the chain are still part of the estate. The oldest surviving Wetherspoon is The Rochester Castle in Stoke Newington, opened in 1983.
In 1998, Wetherspoon introduced oversized glasses and promoted the "full pint". This initiative was soon withdrawn, supposedly because customers were still asking for top-ups, but arguably because other pub chains did not follow its lead.
In 2015, Wetherspoon was made to pay a total of £24,000 for "direct racial discrimination" to eight individuals who were refused admittance to one of its pubs in north London based on what a judge described as "the stereotypical assumption that Irish travellers and English gypsies cause disorder wherever they go".
Wetherspoon claimed to be "the only large pub firm which opens all its pubs early in the morning", serving breakfast and coffee as well as a full food menu into the evening. Weekly food promotions include Steak club (Tuesday), Wing it Wednesday (Chicken club), Curry Club (Thursday) and Fish Friday. The Sunday Club (traditional Sunday roasts) promotion was dropped in March 2016.
Wetherspoon hosts two Ale Festivals in March/April and October each year (when a larger range of guest ales is available in each pub) and a Cider Festival in the summer.
Many Wetherspoon pubs are conversions of existing buildings, including:Theatres and cinemas (The Ritz, Lincoln; The Playhouse, The York Palace, Colchester; Opera House, Tunbridge Wells; The Capitol, Forest Hill; Coronet, Holloway; Prince Of Wales, Cardiff; The Salt Cot, Saltcoats; The Picture Palace, Enfield; The Regal Cinema, Rochdale; The Hippodrome, March; The Plaza, Rugeley; The Capitol, Dundee; The Peter Cushing, Whitstable; The Gordon Highlander, Inverurie)
Banks (The Crosse Keys, City of London; Bankers Draft, Sheffield; The Twelve Tellers, Preston; The Standing Order, Derby; The Standing Order, Edinburgh; The Standing Order, Southampton; Becketts Bank, Leeds; The Moon and Sixpence, Hatch End; The Counting House, Congleton; The Counting House, Glasgow; The Archibald Simpson, Aberdeen)
Post offices (The Wheeping Ash, St Neots; The Penny Black, Bicester; Last Post, Paisley, Southend; Loughton; Humphrey Bean, Tonbridge; The Narrows, Abingdon; The Arnold Machin, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stone; The Harlequin, Huntingdon; The Last Post, Beeston; The William Webb Ellis, Twickenham; The Postal Order, Blackburn)
Swimming pools (Rawson Spring, Sheffield)
Churches (The Man in the Moon, Newport; The Church House, Wath-upon-Dearne; Chapel An Gansblydhen, Bodmin; The West Kirk, Ayr; The Black Bull Inn, Bangor; The Earl of Zetland, Grangemouth; The Samuel Peto, Folkestone)
Consequently, many Wetherspoon properties are listed buildings.
There are Wetherspoon bars in the passenger terminals of many UK airports, such as Robin Hood Airport, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Edinburgh Airport, London Gatwick, London Stansted and London Heathrow and in several main railway stations including London Victoria, London Liverpool Street, London Cannon Street, Leeds and Liverpool Lime Street.
In 2013, the chain opened its 900th pub.
Wetherspoon pioneered non-smoking areas in pubs – even before the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005, The Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and the Health Act 2006 in England and Wales introduced smoking bans in public houses – and started converting some of its pubs to completely non-smoking in 2005 before introducing a complete ban in 2006.
The first Wetherspoon's pub in Ireland was The Spinning Mill in Ballymena, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, which opened in 2000. The Republic of Ireland's first Wetherspoon pub, The Three Tun Tavern, opened in Blackrock, County Dublin, in 2014.
In 2014, Wetherspoon controversially opened a pub at the Beaconsfield motorway service area on the M40.
Wetherspoon also owns a chain of hotels in the UK. As of 2015, there are 34 hotels in England, Wales and Scotland. In 2014, it was reported that the company would open a pub and 100-room hotel in Camden Street, Dublin, Ireland.
In 2015, Wetherspoon bought the Grade II* Listed Art Deco State Cinema in Grays, Essex which had been under threat of damage from vandalism and water ingress for a number of years.
Every Wetherspoon pub has a unique carpet, drawing on the location, building and name. They are produced by Axminster Carpets and, having more than the usual six colours, have to be partially handmade on old fashioned looms, costing up to £30,000 – twice as much as stock designs.
Mags Thomson, 66, from Livingston, Scotland, has visited every Wetherspoon in Great Britain, from 1994 to October 2015, when she had visited 972, including 80 that have subsequently closed.
John Hutson is the chief executive, with total annual remuneration of £1,202,000 in 2015, consisting of a £494,000 base salary and a £24,000 bonus, plus other income.