What is the Winning Formula Behind Wetherspoon’s Success?

Arguably a student favourite, JD Wetherspoon plc has been operating since 1979, when their first pub opened in North London. Fast-forward nearly forty years later and the national chain now owns nearly 1,000 hotels and pubs across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Having earned numerous accolades including a Top Employer United Kingdom award for the past 15 years running and Best Vegan Noodle Dish 2017 at the PETA Vegan Food Awards, it’s fair to say there’s more than meets the eye to Wetherspoon’s success.

Often only associated with affordable alcohol and big breakfast deals, it’s clear that Wetherspoon has worked hard to appeal to a range of market-segments, which has contributed to its national success. For example, in 2017 they introduced the Wetherspoon app, allowing tech-savvy customers to order directly to their table and pay for food and drink by phone. In the same year, all plastic straws were replaced with paper ones in order to reduce waste as well as appeal to environmentally concerned consumers. The company is also committed to the promotion of diversity and inclusion within their work environment through schemes such as the Women @ Wetherspoon initiative, aimed at coaching and supporting female managers and has a range of training and development programmes for motivated employees to improve their skills. This combination of corporate social responsibility schemes with investment in human resources and technological innovation has proved to be a winning formula so far.

Wetherspoons current breakfast menu

However, perhaps one of Wetherspoon’s most important target markets in to the future will be the ever-increasing student population, always bargain-hunting for cheap drinks and tasty food. Is Wetherspoon doing enough to appeal to this high-volume group? In our opinion, yes. This year the chain has designed The Little Book of Big Savings, a free voucher book exclusively for students that should be distributed to Freshers’ Fairs across the country. The book contains £100 worth of discount vouchers that can be used in Wetherspoon pubs nationwide, with offers including a single vodka and free mixer for £1.99, helping students to stretch their student loan for a few more nights out. Furthermore, the company has a section of their website exclusively targeted at students, promoting the unlimited free WiFi available at their venues as well as daily free refills on coffee and tea. If you don’t manage to get your hands on a voucher book, we’d definitely recommend asking your local ’Spoons if there are any student offers on this Autumn that you can take advantage of.

Potential future success for Wetherspoon could focus on the opportunities for growth Brexit might bring to the company. Tim Martin, founder and chairman of the pub chain is a staunch supporter of Brexit and funded the Vote Leave campaign with £200,000 leading up to the Referendum. Furthermore, as of July 9th this year Wetherspoon has exchanged their French champagne and German beer for sparkling wines produced in Australia and wheat beers from the United Kingdom, aiming to showcase more local beverage brands as well as products from outside of the European Union. Mr. Martin is reported to have said that Wetherspoon is “starting to make the transition to non-EU trade now,” most likely to ensure a smooth transition to more non-EU producers post-Brexit. These newly introduced products are being offered to customers at lower prices than the EU equivalents they are replacing, suggesting that pub-goers can look forward to further price reductions as the national chain invests in a more competitive business model, ensuring the continued success of their winning formula: good value for money.

Julia Constable