By Daniel Hunter

J D Wetherspoon have announced that they will cut their expansion plans following a fall in sales in the second half of 2011.

The pub chain blames the UK's tax regime for the drop in sales, and as a result will open forty instead of fifty new establishments this year.

The firm reported pre-tax profits rose 11% to £35.8m in the six months to 22 January from a year ago, with sales of pubs open more than a year up 2.1%.

"The outcome for the first half of the financial year was reasonable, given the pressures on the UK consumer," Tim Martin, the Chairman of J D Wetherspoon plc, said.

"As previously stated, the main challenges for the company, in this financial year of 53 trading weeks, will be the continuing cost pressures resulting from government legislation, including further increases to excise duty, business rates and carbon tax.

"Sales since our 18 January 2012 pre-close statement have been disappointing, with like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 4 March declining by 0.7% and total sales increasing by 6.1%.

"As previously stated, we expect the operating profit margin before exceptionals to decline in the second half of this financial year due to continuing cost increases, with the current quarter particularly affected. We are, therefore, slightly more cautious about the potential outcome for the current financial year."

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