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Modern challenges for pub landlords and how to overcome them  

The decline of the British pub industry has been well documented in newspapers over recent years. Today, nearly 30 pubs close each week, depriving many communities of a viable place to meet and socialise. Landlords and publicans are fighting harder and more ferociously than ever to stay open in the face of modern political and societal challenges. The pub trade is directly under threat from a range of particularly modern challenges. Different commentators offer a number of different explanations for the wave of pub closures. We have mapped out and defined some of these challenges and the steps which pubs can take to try to resolve them.

Public policy

Taxes, regulations and declining disposable incomes can all be blamed for closing a great number of pubs since 2006. In particular, pub advocates blame the smoking ban and a punitive tax code for closing nearly 10,000 pubs since 2006. Recent measures have sought to soften the blow of public policy. The particularly contentious alcohol duty escalator was scrapped last year and beer duty has been cut three years in a row.

Cultural change

Long term cultural changes have also had a significant impact on the pub trade. Recent demographic changes as well as a more general decline in alcohol consumption, particularly amongst younger generations, can account for more closures. Additionally, it appears that more people are choosing to socialise at home as communities become more fragmented. This effect is exaggerated by the availability of extremely cheap alcohol at almost every supermarket chain.

What can pubs do?

Changing elements of public policy is difficult especially for individual pubs and small pub companies. You can put pressure on your local representative by urging him or her to reduce alcohol duty and VAT, or join campaign groups like CAMRA.

Adapting to modern society

Pubs would be better served trying to adapt to changing market demands. Many urban pubs for instance are trying to appeal to a younger crowd by offering a more personable service. They market themselves more as casual dining venues rather than as traditional working class establishments. Many pubs are turning to social media to try to attract younger patrons. You can read our top twitter tips for pub landlords here. Other pubs are taking on additional roles in an effort to remain relevant. Some pubs, particularly in rural areas, are taking on multiple functions such as becoming the village Post Office or behaving more like a café during the day.

But adapt with care

Some measures designed to bring in more customers can actually end up having a disproportionately negative impact on costs. Becoming more like a gastropub and serving food for example will exponentially impact on your energy costs. As will opening longer hours to capture more of the breakfast or lunchtime trade. Clearly pubs do need to make some changes if they wish to keep serving the public, but any changes should be conducted with care and landlords must ensure they keep a tight handle on costs. We have experience helping lots of pubs overcome modern challenges. We have helped hundreds of pubs and pub companies to reduce their energy bills and free up a little more expenditure each month. Only recently we helped a small pub company save over £5,000 on their annual energy bills – a huge saving which they reinvested into the business. Find out how much you could save today by filling in our contact form or by calling 0800 043 0423.    

Published by Utility Helpline on (modified )