From the 1600s breweries bought pubs creating the tied-house system, & by the early 20th century, at least 90% of all pubs in England were owned by 6 breweries. The Beer Orders in the 80s limited this ownership but were repealed in 2003.
Since then, many enterprising businesses have jumped into the industry. The biggest include Mitchells & Butlers PLC, Greene King, PUNCH TAVERNS PLC, Stonegate Group, J D Wetherspoon, ENTERPRISE INNS PLC, Star Pubs & Bars (The HEINEKEN Company), Admiral Taverns, Fuller's Brewery & Marston's PLC.
British Beer & Pub Association, counted 47,200 UK pubs in 2019. 23,400 independent, 13,900 owned by Pub Companies, & 9,900 owned by breweries.
We all know there are some truly fantastic pubs out there but sadly they're having a really tough time right now.
According to Sunday’s BBC article 383 pubs closed across the UK in the first 6 months of 2023! That's almost matching the total for the whole of 2022. London & Wales are hardest hit.
The cost-of-living crisis, high inflation & staffing challenges are impacting. Although pubs currently have 75% discount on business rates this ends in March 2024, just when rates are set to rise. “The last thing pubs need is an average business rates hike of £12,385 next year," says Alex Probyn BSc (Hons), FRICS from Altus Group.
Something needs to happen with business rates to support our national institutions from Pubs to High Streets. A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said they “recognise the value of our local pubs” & called for "fundamental reform" of the system, including "full devolution of business rates tax policy".
We agree but what else can be done?
I'm lucky to have a great local pub. Vibrant, bustling, & full of punters.
So what's the secret of their success?
I've observed some very familiar traits that also exist in successful businesses in other sectors. Looks simple from the outside, but we know it takes vision & effort to deliver these successfully:
- Autonomy for local management - trust & support from HQ.
- A team that really care - individuals who feel part of the business
- Clear & simple proposition - wide variety of drinks & guest beers.
- Opportunities for upsell - great food with a superb Thai kitchen.
- Stuff to talk about - regular themed events, sports & live music.
- Local engagement - make effort to be a part of the local community.
- Understand your customers - local racial/age/gender demographic.
A local outlook can make a huge difference to multi-location businesses whatever size they are. And it can bring a significant advantage to businesses, particularly in difficult times. Speak to us about how we can help.
P.S. What's your favourite local pub?
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