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JD Wetherspoon’s Motorway Pub Branded a “Bad Idea” by Consumers

14 June 2013

JD Wetherspoon’s plan to open its first motorway pub is not an idea favoured by the British public. According to new research by Canadean Custom Solutions, 54% of adults believe this is a “bad idea”.

The pub, which will be situated on the Extra service area on the M40 at Beaconsfield will serve alcohol from 8am until 1am and will be the first of a number of proposed openings. According to new research by Canadean Custom Solutions, consumers feel that such an opening sends out the wrong signals about drinking alcohol and driving. 57% of the respondents believe this undermines government campaigns on road safety.

The proposed opening of the pub this year follows moves by the Home Office to relax laws on alcohol sales at motorway service stations. The decision by JD Wetherspoon to open a pub on the M40 comes just two weeks after Harvester opened its first motorway restaurant selling alcohol on the M1 in Leicestershire.  

The survey of 2,000 respondents found that 54% agree that opening a Wetherspoon pub will “encourage irresponsible drinking” and only 15% believe this is a “good idea”. 42% of the respondents believe it is the responsibility of the individual to drive responsibly and 43% are happy with the prospects of more food and drink choices on the motorway.

Michael Hughes, Research Manager at Canadean Custom Solutions, says “JD Wetherspoon has thrived in a recessionary environment as a result of its competitive prices, menu extensions and diversification into the hotel sector. Whilst this is another example of the chain expanding and the general consensus that such a motorway opening would offer more choice, there is genuine concern among consumers that it could encourage a minority to drink and drive”.

Hughes concludes “In order to reduce negative perceptions about the opening of such pubs in the future, JD Wetherspoon need to position such outlets as restaurants, making competitively priced food the focal point, to avoid negative publicity in a way that Harvester has managed to do”.


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