JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has slammed suggestions by Jamie Oliver that the Government should introduce a 10p sugar tax on soft drinks, saying it would lead to pub closures.
The TV personality and chef has introduced a 10p tax on fizzy or sugary drinks in his restaurants and is calling on the Government to introduce a tax on sugary drinks in the UK. Restaurant chains including Leon have already introduced the 'tax'.
However, Wetherspoon founder and chairman Martin has criticised the 'big brother tax', saying it would make pubs even more uncompetitive against supermarkets who are better able to absorb additional costs.
He said: 'A new tax on soft drinks will cost pubs millions at a time when prices in pubs are already very high compared to supermarkets. Jamie Oliver runs restaurants which cater to an affluent clientele. He is either courting the favour of the elite or is badly out of touch with the majority of people.
'I believe that he should campaign for tax equality for pubs, restaurants and supermarkets, since pubs and restaurants pay 20% VAT on food sales, compared to zero for supermarkets. Showboating of this kind by Jamie Oliver will close pubs.'
The company, which has 950 pubs across the UK, said Pepsi is now its biggest selling draught product with 580,000 drinks served in the past seven days, of which 197,000 were Diet Pepsi. It also says it has served almost one million teas and coffees in the same period, all of which were served sugar-free.