PUB firm JD Wetherspoon is seeking more sites in Devon after posting record profits.
The chain said it has identified locations for new pubs in Seaton, Okehampton, Torquay, Plympton and Tavistock, but remains on the lookout for more sites in the region.
Tim Martin, the Exeter-based chairman of JD Wetherspoon, launched a fresh attack on the tax burden on the pub industry as his company reported a profit before tax and exceptional items of £76.9m for the year ending July 28 – up 6.3 per cent on the year before.
Total sales were up seven per cent to just over £1.28bn.
Wetherspoon has 886 pubs across the country, including: The Imperial, George's Meeting House, The Chevalier Inn and The Sawyers Arms in Exeter; The Powder Monkey in Exmouth; The White Ball Inn in Tiverton; The General Sir Redvers Buller in Crediton; The Richard Hopkins in Newton Abbot; and The Star Inn in Honiton.
The company opened 29 pubs and sold three during the past year. It intends to open around 30 pubs in the next 12 months.
Mr Martin said: "I am pleased to report another year of progress, with record sales, profit and earnings per share, despite having paid £551.5m in taxes during the year (equivalent to £632,000 per pub) and rewarding staff with £28.6m of bonuses.
"Our post-tax profit increased by £7.9m, yet our taxes paid increased by £32.2m.
"It is unsustainable to have far higher taxes for the pub industry than those for supermarkets. Already, 10,000 pubs have closed and many others are suffering, through insufficient investment.
"In particular, there should be VAT equality for pubs, restaurants and supermarkets."
In order to draw attention to what it regards as the unfair tax regime, Wetherspoon is supporting Tax Parity Day on Wednesday, September 25, in association with Jacques Borel's VAT Club – also supported by many others, including Punch, Fullers, Pizza Hut and thousands of individual publicans.
It will offer a one-day 7.5 per cent reduction in its prices to reflect the likely reduction in prices that consumers would see if VAT in pubs were reduced. At present all food and drink in pubs is subject to 20 per cent VAT, while supermarkets benefit from a zero VAT rate.
Mark Waites, manager at The Imperial, said: "We are proud to support the campaign to reduce the level of VAT within the pub industry. We are keen to highlight the amount customers would save if VAT in pubs was lowered permanently."
Mr Martin added: "A reduction in the level of VAT on a long-term basis will generate growth and create jobs in the important leisure and hospitality sector.
"Creating tax parity between pubs, restaurants and supermarkets will fulfil many Government objectives.
"It will create more jobs and it will raise the amount of taxes the Government receive, since pubs and restaurants pay more taxes and create more jobs than supermarkets. It's a win-win situation for the Government, voters and our industry."