Tim Martin: Wetherspoons boss’ shock reason staff ‘don’t have to smile or be nice’ exposed

Mr Martin has, in recent years, been propelled on to the centre stage of British public life. His newfound fame came much as a result of Brexit, when the entrepreneur and Wetherspoons pub owner began rallying across the country in support of leaving the EU.

Many backed Mr Martin’s efforts in raising the profile of the Leave campaign.

Yet, just as many were likely left disgruntled that the owner of their favourite budget pub batted for Leave.

During the campaign, he embarked on what became known as “Tim Martin’s no-deal Brexit Wetherspoons tour”.

He pledged to visit 100 pubs up and down the country taking to the podium to espouse the positives of a UK removed from Brussels.

This came as a surprise to many given that Mr Martin shunned a life at the bar – as a lawyer – because of a lack of confidence in public speaking.

He went on to print half-a-million beer mats setting out how Britain would benefit from leaving the EU.

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And, he gave menus across the country a makeover, swapping ingredients, foodstuffs, and alcohol sourced from Europe for alternatives from Britain and the rest of the world.

In 2017, during BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’, he offered yet more insight to his relationship with staff.

The programme’s host, Kirsty Young, asked: “When you are chatting as you do every week to managers and deputy managers and bar staff, do you ever say to them ‘never ever say this to the customer?’”


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Mr Martin replied: “No. And I also tell them you don’t have to smile either.

“They don’t have to smile no.

“We don’t go out of our way to tell them to be nice.

“I think that puts too much pressure on people.

“I think when you go to a pub you get a beer, someone’s natural personality will emerge better if they’re not under too much pressure – which of course they are under tremendous pressure anyway.

“Some of our best bar staff are quite grumpy.”

He later in the show revealed how he had dipped out of a live referendum show on Brexit night in 2016 after he believed Remain would win.

He said: I was asked to be on David Dimbleby’s referendum show and I dipped out at the last minute because I thought we were going to lose.

“I thought, I’m not going to be there and say – ‘yes the best man won’.”

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