UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon has posted a 6.5% rise in revenue for its first half and said it continues to trade well despite the difficult economy.

Wetherspoon, which owns more than 700 pubs, said today (13 March) that revenue climbed to GBP468.7m (US$655.6m) and like-for-like sales increased 1.9% over the six months ended 25 January.

Pre-tax profit fell 10% to GBP25.6m and operating profit after exceptional items dipped 4.7% to GBP42.3m.

Despite this, Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoon, said that cash generation in the twelve months to January, including the second half of the last financial year, had been "extremely strong", producing free cash flow of GBP95m, compared to GBP43m in the preceding year.

Since the period end, the company has agreed a new banking facility of GBP20m from Abbey Santander that will run in parallel with the company's existing bank facility until December 2010, providing "additional flexibility", the firm said.

"Although the pub industry as a whole is under great pressure from higher taxes and social legislation, as well as a difficult economy, as a result of our strong cashflow, reducing debt and the excellent work of our employees, I remain confident of the company's future prospects," said Martin.