A PUB chain with eight outlets in Cumbria has announced that it has sunk into the red for the first time in 36 years.

JD Wetherspoon reported sales in the year to July 26 plummeted 30 per cent from £1.82bn to £1.26bn, with a loss of £105.4m.

The firm runs The William Rufus and Woodrow Wilson's in Botchergate, Carlisle, along with The Bransty Arch in Whitehaven and The Henry Bessemer in Workington. There are further branches in Keswick, Penrith, Barrow and Kendal.

Despite the hit from the Covid-19 crisis the company remains confident it can continue to trade.

Founder and chairman Tim Martin said table service has been particularly costly to the chain and renewed calls on the Government to change regulations which he believes continue to favour supermarkets.

He said: "It makes no sense for supermarkets to be treated more leniently than pubs, since pubs generate far more jobs per pint or meal than do supermarkets, as well as far higher levels of tax.

"Pubs also make an important contribution to the social life of many communities and have better visibility and control of those who consume alcoholic drinks."