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Doors Will Shut On 4,000 'complacent' British Pubs, Warns Drinkers' Guide

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http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/aug/29/shut-british-pubs-drinkers

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As many as 4,000 British pubs will deservedly go out of business over the next year because they are "stuck in the 1980s" and complacently offering "indifferent" food, drink and service, a national industry guide has predicted.

The editors of the Good Pub Guide 2014, published today, forecast that between 2,500 and 4,000 of the 49,500 public houses in the UK will be forced to shut and even says it is "high time that they closed their doors" to make way for more energetic and dynamic new licensees.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has reported that 26 pubs are closing a week (a total of 1,300 a year) but the Good Pub Guide editors, Alisdair Aird and Fiona Stapley, expect the figure to escalate over the next 12 months due to the increase in disposals by pub companies and predictions from insolvency experts.

Camra described the findings from a guide that claims to support the industry as bizarre.

It would be interesting to know how many of these pubs have unsustainable rents. Although in the current climate you aren't going to sit in a pub with poor service and food.

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It would be interesting to know how many of these pubs have unsustainable rents. Although in the current climate you aren't going to sit in a pub with poor service and food.

Or are tied pubs with basically no choice over what drinks they stock, and astronomical demands for rent meaning that they have to try and charge as much as possible for cheap food.

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Pub up the Road (Layer Fox) has done it all, good food, well priced, events, open all day with bread and deli counter, plenty of advertising.

They fail to see though, that WE dont go because there is always a group of chavs/smokers at the door eyeing up everyone who goes in...it alone is enough to put many off.

The pub is up for sale...again. after all their efforts, its a shame they couldnt attract people like me..course, having no spare dosh doesnt help either.

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Or are tied pubs with basically no choice over what drinks they stock, and astronomical demands for rent meaning that they have to try and charge as much as possible for cheap food.

Yes.....don't use it lose it, can't use it lose it......the tenants that can't pay the debt overheads, can't choose what they want to sell at what price, can't continue the business.....

Maybe the highly indebted investors who bought property with debt to pass on to the tenants via rent who can't now pass the debt onto the punters because the punters won't buy it should turn it into housing......but wait who can buy housing when they haven't got a job. ;)

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Although in the current climate you aren't going to sit in a pub with poor service and food.

Weatherspoons do quite well and their service is poor and the food is really crap by Irish standards. One of the things I see in common between the British and Irish pubs is the abysmal range of drinks on offer.

Weatherspoons can be quite varible, the weatherspoons in Street, Somerset has no scrumpy or cider and it is right bang in the middle of scrumpy land. The weatherspoons in Newquay had a good selection of drinks, one in Eniskillen is abysmal, the one in Dover if frankly a joke, hte one in Maidstone is good.

I don't hate weatherspoons it's just they are so variable - sometimes it's like walking into an amusement arcade full of drunks. Perhaps it's the towns they are located in?

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Pub up the Road (Layer Fox) has done it all, good food, well priced, events, open all day with bread and deli counter, plenty of advertising.

They fail to see though, that WE dont go because there is always a group of chavs/smokers at the door eyeing up everyone who goes in...it alone is enough to put many off.

The pub is up for sale...again. after all their efforts, its a shame they couldnt attract people like me..course, having no spare dosh doesnt help either.

Why dont you make the chavs an offer they cant refuse?

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There are plenty of poor gastro pubs too of course. I was in one recently(the day after the HPC meetup as it happens) which I thought was overpriced and of questionable quality. I suspected it might be when I saw a big telly with the football on.

But I think people's assessment of food quality is getting better, although is a work in progress.

Amid problems related to the economic climate, and the pub industry, people are demanding better beer/food and increasingly realising that much of what many pubs offer is below par. Poor quality beer is what I suspect is putting many dodgy pubs to the sword more than food- many people will happily visit a place that offers only snacks, so long as the beers on offer are interesting, of high quality. If it comes down to Fosters or John Smiths, well people can drink that out of cans at home for a fraction of the price and little if any discernible difference in flavour.

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It's the smoking ban I tells ye, not that many are still in a time warp and licenses/rent make many pubs economic follies no matter how much custom or footfall they enjoy.

Identikit pubs in identikit towns don't help either. Businesses need the opportunity to own the premises they trade in for future viability, but the rentier class saw that dream off years ago.

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It would be interesting to know how many of these pubs have unsustainable rents.

It's not just the rents though, it's the prices they're paying for their beer.

The tennanted pubs are obliged to buy their beer from the landlord and the landlord has the right to charge whatever they want for the beer.

Basically the business model is that the landlord sets the beer price at a level to ensure that the tennant makes just enough to live off and keep the business going. Spend a fortune refurbishing the place and improving the business, the brewery says thanks very much and jacks up the beer price.

Probably the underlying problem is that a lot of the sites are worth more as housing than they are as pubs; the rent on my local is £30k something a year but they could probably sell the land for housing for £1m give or take.

Since a lot of the pubcos are overborrowed there is an obvious attraction to this approach; my guess is that their plan is to squeeze the pubs out of existance through high rents and high beer prices then use this as an arguement to get planning permission for a change of use.

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As many as 4,000 British pubs will deservedly go out of business over the next year because they are "stuck in the 1980s" and complacently offering "indifferent" food, drink and service, a national industry guide has predicted

If that's the reason it's not only British pubs that'll be going out of business then.

As for "stuck in the 1980s" maybe that's a harbinger for the public sector as well.

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It's the smoking ban I tells ye, not that many are still in a time warp and licenses/rent make many pubs economic follies no matter how much custom or footfall they enjoy.

Identikit pubs in identikit towns don't help either. Businesses need the opportunity to own the premises they trade in for future viability, but the rentier class saw that dream off years ago.

Yeah, owning the freehold is the only way to go, but we all know why that doesn't happen much anymore.

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Yeah, owning the freehold is the only way to go, but we all know why that doesn't happen much anymore.

Indeed. There's more then enough entrepreneurial spirit and ideas out there, but the system is closed to many who are half competent with a spreadsheet.

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Indeed. There's more then enough entrepreneurial spirit and ideas out there, but the system is closed to many who are half competent with a spreadsheet.

Interestingly, the current travails of big pubcos may provide some opportunities to get freeholds of failing pubs, but whether the offered prices make sense I don't know. Likely to be a bit stiff if values are backstopped by the change of use potential as you say earlier.

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I had not realised until talking in our bar last night that the sale of spirit stills and added flavourings to produce acceptable spirits and liqueurs is so widespread.

This will undoubtedly be having a considerable effect on pubs and other alcohol sales and is a hidden aspect of the health/alcohol issue.

This is as well as making a big hole in Giddy-ones cash take.

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As many as 4,000 British pubs will deservedly go out of business over the next year because they are "stuck in the 1980s" and complacently offering "indifferent" food, drink and service, a national industry guide has predicted.

The problem with Camra is it seems overly chummy with certain landlords. I have been on a few ale trails for cheap entry into Beer festivals (gave that up as the beer was more expensive than the local pubs lol). Some pubs I like or would like to pop into are not on the list. Others that are on the list are hotels with at the time 1 ale. A few only had London Pride or Stowford Press cider.... Sometimes pubs were taken off the list as they won too many times, but then a pub wins the best pub 3 years in a row they continue on.

It seems more like a local bunch of people who like to be judges as some form of hobby. Wonder around get some R E S P E C T from some poor ******* Landlord desperate to pay the bills. Not welcoming well your off the list. God only knows what "stuck in the 1980s" means, the only pubs I can think of are some of the cheap chain hotels with a bar.

The business model is fkd that is the problem. One of the top pubs in our area is £25k just in rent, you add business rates / bills that is too much for a small very small pub. If you try and make that kind of money you need 2 people ... bang your profit is gone again.

Almost all the rubbish pubs closed years ago, 4000 will be Landlords throwing in the towel and I do not blame them.

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pubs closing because beer prices/taxes are too high.

houses prices way ttoo high...what is coming next i wonder...

So people sit in and socialise maybe smoke at home with their mates home brew and home food because they can't afford to do it in the pub........next people will stay living in the family home or bed sit land because they can't afford to buy or rent a home or start a family. ;)

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So, true story. A guy I was at school with quit his stressful job working for a large retailer and took some time out to figure out what to do next. At around the same time his local boozer in a town near where I grew up closed. It was definitely one of the sorts of places the Drinkers' Guide is on about - crap food, tatty decor, indifferent service etc. The place was closed for several months with no takers so this guy, who was always into his food and drink, got in touch with the owners, a big pubco, and asked about taking it over. The lease wasn't particularly cheap but he did the sums and figured that, if he concentrated on food and didn't expect to make much, if anything, from the booze the numbers added up. Three months after that he re-opened the place as a full on gastro-pub and it did brilliantly - rave reviews in the local papers, always busy, great food (I ate there several times and can confirm that it was really good). Anyway, a year later and the first rent rise hits him. This was during a period when interest rates were falling note. The pubco's reason: the business was clearly doing well and that they felt the rent had been set too low in the first place. Anyway, two more years and two more rent rises and he decided that enough was enough. He'd put his prices up as much as he could to the extent that he had to lower them again at one point when customer numbers started to drop off but it was no longer possible to make a reasonable living out of it. He put the lease and business up for sale and some mug paid him around 50K for it. It lasted about three months after the sale before the new owner went bust and has now been empty for the last year. I assume the pubco want to prove it isn't viable as a pub so that they can get planning permission for housing but maybe they're just incompetent, greedy b*stards, hard to tell really.

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http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/aug/29/shut-british-pubs-drinkers

It would be interesting to know how many of these pubs have unsustainable rents. Although in the current climate you aren't going to sit in a pub with poor service and food.

It's a job making a profit even when these are freehold....many up for sale for less than 100K with owners accommodation.

Many willl buy in the hope that they can get planning for a house, because unproductive house is good, business is bad.......

http://uk.businessesforsale.com/uk/South-Ayrshire-Village-Inn-For-Sale.aspx

A la la land economy where business' can't turn a profit but houses go up forever.

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It's a job making a profit even when these are freehold....many up for sale for less than 100K with owners accommodation.

I assume you're not allowed to just never open?

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So, true story. A guy I was at school with quit his stressful job working for a large retailer and took some time out to figure out what to do next. At around the same time his local boozer in a town near where I grew up closed. It was definitely one of the sorts of places the Drinkers' Guide is on about - crap food, tatty decor, indifferent service etc. The place was closed for several months with no takers so this guy, who was always into his food and drink, got in touch with the owners, a big pubco, and asked about taking it over. The lease wasn't particularly cheap but he did the sums and figured that, if he concentrated on food and didn't expect to make much, if anything, from the booze the numbers added up. Three months after that he re-opened the place as a full on gastro-pub and it did brilliantly - rave reviews in the local papers, always busy, great food (I ate there several times and can confirm that it was really good). Anyway, a year later and the first rent rise hits him. This was during a period when interest rates were falling note. The pubco's reason: the business was clearly doing well and that they felt the rent had been set too low in the first place. Anyway, two more years and two more rent rises and he decided that enough was enough. He'd put his prices up as much as he could to the extent that he had to lower them again at one point when customer numbers started to drop off but it was no longer possible to make a reasonable living out of it. He put the lease and business up for sale and some mug paid him around 50K for it. It lasted about three months after the sale before the new owner went bust and has now been empty for the last year. I assume the pubco want to prove it isn't viable as a pub so that they can get planning permission for housing but maybe they're just incompetent, greedy b*stards, hard to tell really.

There is a part of me that thinks that the destruction of pubs is semi-deliberate, due to the association with working class people using them as a place to organise. Or, of course, it could just be the pubcos run by management consultants who regard pushing publicans to the edge of bankruptcy as a moral duty..

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indifferent food and service . . . stuck in the 1980s

I seriously doubt that the authors can really remember how awful pubs were in the 70s and 80s.

Camra itself was formed because of the totally undrinkable beer at the time (remember Watney's Red Barrel?) . . . and you had to search for a decent Camra pub back then. English pubs are wonderful these days.

In June I had a little trip around East Anglia, mostly Suffolk, and chose a pub a day for lunch simply at random. I was really impressed.

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Probably the most expensive pub lunch of the trip at £11.95. But you couldn't fault it . . . unless purists find it just too twee. (Mark Cross Inn, Kent)

dscn5333.jpg?w=525&h=391

Suffolk Bangers & Mash in Long Melford, Sussex (The Bull ) . . . in red onion and red wine sauce. Exquisite.

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Beautifully presented Terrine and Poppy Salad (Aldeburgh, Suffolk) . . . Funny, after this, my Russian friend was so impressed she bought some poppy seeds to take back for the dacha . . even though they are banned in Russia.

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The Carvery at the Shaw Farm Pub, Woodham Ferrers, Essex. Two slices of whatever roast you want (Chicken, pork, beef) plus as many freshly roasted vegetable as you can eat. With gravy of course. All for £5.95

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OK, dessert and catering pack time. But good presentation, shining plates and glasses and pretty waitress. (Chelmsford, Essex.)

I travel a lot and, quite honestly, pub food in UK is good value for money compared to many places on the continent . . . and often quite delightful. It's the UK business rates and the taxes on drinks (particularly wine) that make it expensive.

I've been in Italy a lot recenly . . the equivalent to the pub lunch - the local cafe - is not so different. You get a plate of pasta with a sauce for around 6 Euro and a mezzo litro of wine for 3.50. So, everyone is trying to provide a meal for under the critical 10 . . . Euros or Pounds.

In nutritional terms, I have to say the English pub does a lot better.

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In June I had a little trip around East Anglia, mostly Suffolk, and chose a pub a day for lunch simply at random. I was really impressed.

You're right, East Anglia is great for that - one of the few things I really miss since moving from Cambridge to Toronto. This place is pretty much my favourite place in the world to eat:

http://www.anchor-inn-restaurant.co.uk/

Cycle from Cambrige, lunch and a couple of pints, cycle back, heaven!

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Or, of course, it could just be the pubcos run by management consultants who regard pushing publicans to the edge of bankruptcy as a moral duty..

I think that's the likely one. No doubt they've got a spreadsheet using the optimisation plugin that they think shows the returns produced with that business model are 0.1% higher than any of the alternatives. They're wrong of course, but getting a w4nker in a suit with an MBA and a copy of excel to apply common sense is about as easy as raising the Titanic.

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