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The most popular drinks at one of Britain's biggest pub groups are non-alcoholic

Key Points
  • Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Friday, JD Wetherspoon's Tim Martin said pubs were having to adapt to a rise of coffee shops and restaurants in the last three decades.
  • "Millennials are drinking less. So, our number one draft product is Pepsi cola — which is almost sacrilege," Martin said.
  • His comments came as JD Wetherspoon reported a rise in full year pre-tax profit on Friday, defying intensifying Brexit uncertainty.
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No deal Brexit would improve living standards, JD Wetherspoon chairman says

The founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon believes "it is almost sacrilege" to find that the most popular drink orders in one of Britain's biggest pub groups are non-alcoholic.

Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Friday, JD Wetherspoon's Tim Martin said pubs were having to adapt to a rise of coffee shops and restaurants in the last three decades.

British pubs "used to have their own nice little monopoly," he said, but changing trends — such as younger people consuming less alcohol — had forced pubs to offer more variety to their consumers.

"Millennials are drinking less. So, our number one draft product is Pepsi cola — which is almost sacrilege. And, we sell more coffee and tea combined, which isn't a draft product, than Pepsi," Martin said.

"So, that's one of the trends that you are seeing. More variety is required as well … but I would say far more non-alcoholic drinks, far more coffee and more food in pubs. Those are the big trends."

Brexit uncertainty

His comments came as JD Wetherspoon — which operates more than 900 public houses in Britain and Ireland — reported a rise in full year pre-tax profit on Friday, defying intensifying Brexit uncertainty.

Pre-tax profit after exceptional items rose to £95.4 million ($118.5 million) for the year ending July 28, up from £89 million a year earlier. However, before exceptional items it fell 4.5% to £102.5 million.

The new JD Wetherspoon pub the Hope and Champion which has opened at the M40 Services at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
Steve Parsons - PA Images | PA Images | Getty Images

The prospect of a "no-deal" Brexit on October 31 has fallen sharply in the last week, after British parliament voted to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson from taking the country out of the European Union in less than 50 days' time.

But, the world's fifth-largest economy still faces months of uncertainty and the outcome of Brexit remains unclear more than three years after a small but clear majority voted to leave the EU.

Earlier this week, the U.K. government was forced to release documents outlining its worst-case scenario "planning assumptions" in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Operation Yellowhammer papers revealed that this cliff-edge scenario could result in rising food and fuel prices, public disorder and disruptions to supplies of medicine.

Martin, an ardent supporter of Brexit, told CNBC on Friday that it was "total nonsense" to think that producer prices would go up in the event of a no-deal departure from the bloc.