More than a third of pubs and bars in the South West risk going out of business over the next 12 months as drinking habits change and competition from supermarkets intensifies, new research shows.
The 34% licensed premises deemed to be ‘at risk’ across the region is far higher than the 24% figure for businesses of all types. However, it is better than the worst affected UK region, the South East, where nearly four in 10 are facing serious financial problems.
The research by R3, the insolvency trade body, comes as the UK’s largest pub operator Punch Taverns is experiencing financial distress and points to a growing divide in the sector between ‘destination’ venues and more run-of-the-mill outlets.
R3 South West chair Joanne Rumley, who is also a partner at Bristol law firm Bond Pearce, said: “The recession has gone on far longer than could have been predicted and it is getting harder for people to find the money to spend on discretionary items.
“For many, going to the pub after work is being replaced by buying cheaper alcohol in the supermarkets, and the strain on pubs and bars is really showing.
“The South West is home to a range of bars and pubs, from establishments specialising in fine wine or contemporary cocktails to inns with a history of serving customers in the region for hundreds of years.
“However, customers are getting more and more discerning, not only about what they drink, but where. Some pubs desperately require reinvestment but currently, there isn’t enough ready cash to do so or funders aren’t necessarily interested in investing more money. Those who cannot compete with the most trendy, convenient or best value may well face closure in the not too distant future.”
Below: The Duke of Edinburgh – just one of the pubs that have closed in Swindon in the past few years. More are to follow, according to a new survey