Pubs group JD Wetherspoon's new outlets seen to hurt Scottish hospitality brand

In Scotland, pubs group JD Wetherspoon is extending its reach into rural areas, with new outlets set to open in Hawick and Inverurie in the coming weeks and sites earmarked for locations, including Orkney, Peebles and Brechin.

The move comes as part of a concerted drive into small-town Scotland for which the company has identified sites in Fraserburgh, Blairgowie, Thurso, Lockerbie, Forfar, Cupar, Kelso, Oban and Fort William. This would add to its 51-strong business north of the Border.

However, the move has caused concern among some in the licensed trade, who see the expanding chain pubs leading to a dilution of the Scottish hospitality brand.

According to Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Wetherspoons was formula and price-driven and their discounts led to accusations of them being the "supermarkets of the on-trade" that could push smaller, long-established pubs out of business.

He said what they were doing was going into secondary sites and target every pub in the area cutting their prices accordingly. It was very difficult for the smaller operators to compete on price with that, he said, adding, the business model was based around volumes.

He said he was not saying it was Wetherspoons but there were also concerns that chain pub promotions could fall under the 'irresponsible' banner.