Overall ranking: 14
Pub ranking: 1
Tim Martin - Snapshot
Tim Martin is the founder of managed pub operator JD Wetherspoon, which has about 750 outlets. After serving as executive chairman since 1983, Martin moved into the role of non-executive chairman in 2004, with John Hutson running the business on a day-to-day basis as chief executive.
In his role as a roving ambassador for both his own business and the "great British pub" in general, Martin has become one of the industry’s best-known and most widely quoted figures.
In the six months to 24 January 2010, JD Wetherspoon reported profit before tax up 41.4% to £36.2m on turnover of £488.1m.
Tim Martin - Career guide
Born in 1955, Tim Martin opened the first Wetherspoon's pub when he was just 24 – infamously borrowing the surname from a schoolteacher who had told him he wouldn’t amount to much. In 1992 he floated the Wetherspoon business on the London stock market.
Having allegedly threatened to take a back seat at one stage, Martin continuously monitors standards in his pubs, as well as regularly weighing in to the political arena to protest at ever-stricter regulation of the trade.
Tim Martin - What we think
In the run-up to the General Election earlier this year, at a debate in the House of Commons organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, Tim Martin’s name came up. What, a panel of MPs from the main parties was asked, did they think about a view expressed by Martin a few days before that 16- and 17-year-olds - and their parents – would be happier if the teenagers were drinking in their local pub rather than on the streets?
In the current climate of concern, well-founded or otherwise, about the nation’s drinking habits, it’s no surprise that the MPs quickly distanced themselves from the view expressed by JD Wetherspoon’s non-executive chairman - despite, of course, the fact that almost everyone in the room had undoubtedly had their first alcoholic drink in a pub, below the legal age.
Martin says the things that others don’t dare, something his hands-off status from the day-to-day running of the business he founded allows him to do. JD Wetherspoon’s company results are eagerly anticipated by the City press, because it’s always a safe bet that Martin will express a view that will generate good copy.
As well as his suggestion that zealous enforcement of the legal drinking age is “expensive and confrontational”, recent pronouncements from Martin have described the Government's attitude to pubs as “absurd” given the revenue the industry generates.
However much some politicians might hope to dismiss Martin as a court jester figure, the reality is that he has passion for pubs and is genuinely concerned that a combination of factors, from high taxes to crippling bureaucracy, is undermining their place in the social fabric of the nation.
The JD Wetherspoon business is a tribute to the notion that hard work, high standards and the occasional flash of inspiration can work wonders. The initial "no-music, no TV" format has been relaxed to allow managers at the 750 sites to make their own decisions, although there is still strong head-office control.
The format has proved flexible enough to allow JD Wetherspoon to become a big player in the breakfast and coffee market, with its pubs opening earlier to catch such trade. Weekly curry clubs and steak nights offer great-value food, while regular beer festivals provide an important market for smaller brewers.
The business consistently wins awards and accolades for its training, and with some justification: it has been observed that most of the industry benefits from JD Wetherspoon's robust induction and ongoing training as staff move on.
None of which helps endear Martin to his peers. When JD Wetherspoon was named Pub Company of the Year at this year’s Publican Awards in April the applause from the assembled great and good of the industry was, for the most part, slightly grudging. The levels of trade Wetherspoon’s pubs generate, and the keen prices they offer, are hard to compete with.
Martin has never worried about industry acclaim, though. Plans for about 50 new pubs in the current financial year suggest his approach continues to pay off.
Tim Martin – Further information