British pubs group JD Wetherspoon has today posted an 18.9% fall in first-half pre-tax profit, hit by high labour costs. 

The company, like most restaurant chains in the country, has been battling high staff costs, property prices and power bills as well as a move away from pub drinking by younger Britons. 

The group, which relies heavily on alcohol sales at its restaurants, said that labour costs increased by about £33m, accounting for the biggest chunk of overall costs. 

It said it expects results for the current financial year to remain unchanged. 

The company said like-for-like sales rose 9.6% in the six weeks to March 10, helped by good weather this year, while total sales increased 10.9%. 

The owner and operator of more than 900 pubs in UK and Ireland said like-for-like sales rose 6.3% in the 26 weeks to January 27. 

Pretax profit fell to £50.3m from £62m a year earlier.