Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin knighted in King’s New Year Honours

Martin said that the award was really for Wetherspoon’s colleagues and customers
Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has been knighted as part of the New Year honours.

The businessman and founder of the well loved British pub chain has been recognised for his services to hospitality and culture.

He said that the knighthood came as a surprise.

Outspoken Wetherspoon founder and ardent Brexit supporter Tim Martin has been knighted in the new year honours.

The pub tycoon has been recognised for his services to hospitality and culture. Mr Martin built up the pub group after buying his first venue in Muswell Hill, London, in 1979.

The Norwich-born businessman initially called it Martin‘s Free House but changed it to JD Wetherspoon the following year.

He was arguably the most prominent pro-Brexit businessperson during the 2016 referendum and was regularly seen out on the campaign trail alongside Boris Johnson.

Sir Tim said the news of the knighthood came as a surprise and that the award really belonged to staff at the pub chain and its loyal customers.

He said: “It had never been expected, so it came out the blue. I always think that, in the pub world, it is a team effort - even if you’ve just got one pub there are many people involved.

“I think it’s the Wetherspoon colleagues and customers who are getting the award really, that’s the way I look at it. I’m just the lucky recipient.”
The pub chain, which is well known for its low pricing, floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1992 and continued a rapid expansion across the UK. The company currently runs 816 pubs across the country.

Sir Tim, who trained as a lawyer, said: “If I had been any good at the law, which I wasn’t, then I probably would have stuck at that... so it’s quite lucky I wasn’t.”

He said Wetherspoon owes its success to four key elements; the staff, the design of the pubs, not playing “canned music”, and sticking to selling real ale.

Last month, the business revealed sales jumped by almost a tenth in its latest quarter as its value-focused food and drink drew in punters facing tighter budgets due to the cost of living crisis.

Sir Tim gained notoriety in 2016 as one of the highest profile pro-Brexit business-owners. He reportedly donated £200,000 to the Vote Leave campaign as a result.
According to reports in the Daily Mail, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch is said to have pushed for his nomination behind the scenes, arguing that Brexit-supporting entrepreneurs should not be overlooked.

Sir Tim said: “Everyone had a vote, everyone had a view, and I suppose I did more campaigning than most.

“I’d like to think that (the knighthood) is not for my rarely disclosed political views - I hope it is for what it says on the tin.”

He added: “I think the most important thing for the future of the world is that democracy takes root everywhere. I’ve always made that argument.”

The pub boss was also a significant critic of Government shutdowns of hospitality firms, and other businesses, during the coronavirus pandemic through lockdown measures.

This saw him accuse former Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “hypocrisy” during the Partygate scandal, arguing that the situation could have been avoided had pubs been allowed to remain open.

He added that the “financial legacy” of Covid has been inflation, which has pushed up costs for business.

He added: “Most pubs have done very well to get sales back to where they were, but they haven’t quite managed to get profits back.

“So the industry is hopeful that over the next year or two, it can get profits back to where they were.”

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