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Some of the latest trends that pub owners should be aware of

At Utility Helpline, we work closely with dozens of pubs and pubcos right across Britain. We help managers reduce their energy bills and help them run more smoothly. The information below will help pubs recognise new opportunities in the market, respond to some of the threats and redevelop their food and drink offerings in line with modern customer demands.

Pubs Code

In an incredibly significant shakeup of the pub industry, an estimated 12,000 pub tenants will now have the opportunity to break with their suppliers and move to a ‘free-of -tie’ tenancy, after the Pub Code finally came into effect this month. By moving to a market rent only (MRO) option, individual pubs will have the opportunity to purchase drinks and other services (except insurance) from different suppliers. This breaks with centuries of tradition, but is seen as a fairer deal for many operators. It will present a lot of potential efficiencies and opportunities for pubs to save money, but many will see it as a riskier option. We will publish more information about the Pubs Code in due course, particularly relating to how newly independent pubs can get the right deal on their energy supply.


Less of an industry trend, more of a sociotechnical trend that has had a profound and unexpected impact on the pub industry. We have written about how technology can change pubs before, but the impact of Pokèmon GO on certain pubs has been huge. Attracting a lot more people, particularly younger people, into pubs they would not have visited before. This smartphone app gives players the ability to catch virtual creatures in an augmented reality. And many pubs have benefited from additional customers since the game launched earlier this month. Pubs that have been randomly designated as ‘Pokèstops’ are a particular magnet for players. One London pub has reported a 26 percent increase in customers since the game launched. Others have tried to capitalise on the latest smartphone craze by organising Pokèmon pub crawls, or offering free drinks to customers that put lures down.

Food and drink delivery

How customers choose to eat, drink and socialise is constantly in flux. Pubs have been stung in recent years by a trend towards drinking at home, with cheap supermarket booze to satisfy them. But finally, pubs are able to capitalise on this market with new services that take the pub directly to people’s homes. New websites like Deliveroo, which deliver primarily artisan food offerings in major cities (and increasingly in small and medium sized towns too), provide a great outlet for pubs to boost revenue and adapt to changing customer demands. For pubs that have a popular food offering, these websites can be incredibly lucrative. And the deliveries market is just starting to open up for alcoholic drinks too. Takeaway restaurants have long sold bottles of wine with their takeaway meals, but there is evidence that this trend is becoming far more widespread. Moët & Chandon has launched a new chilled delivery service for its new champagne. Others too, like BrewDog and Majestic Wines have got in on the act and sell to those willing to pay a little bit extra to not leave the house. How exactly the average pub can take advantage of this latest trend is less clear. One place to start might be investing in some takeaway pint containers, or offering to source kegs for anyone hosting a party.

Hottest new menu item

Each season seems to bring a new food fad for pub punters. We’ve seen pulled pork, and ballooning vegetarian menus but new trends are emerging all the time. Caribbean food and true barbecue food has started 2016 in a strong fashion and these trends look likely to continue. But to survive and thrive, pub operators that trade on the success of their dry offerings should always be on the lookout for the next big thing – and be brave where possible. Mexican food has been popular with people after hundreds of new burrito bars opened up across the country. One pub in Halifax put a unique twist on the Mexican fad by creating their own British burrito. The restaurant boss told Mashable that the idea for the sandwich came when more and more customers asked for sandwiches on Sundays, instead of the traditional roast dinner. We think it looks amazing.

Electronic cigarettes

It’s been nearly ten years since the smoking ban took effect, and the legislation still leaves a bitter taste for some licensees. Many, however, are not sure what to make of the latest trend in electronic cigarettes. Licensees are free to permit or ban vaping in their premises, but many aren’t sure what the best course of action is. For some it’s a return to the good times, when customers weren’t forced out into the cold for a fag. But others are paranoid that plumes of vapour can be as off-putting to non-smokers as the great clouds of smoke that used to hang over British pubs. One pub in London even managed to benefit from the latest lifestyle trend in electronic cigarettes by organising a ‘speed vaping’ night, with a cloudy twist on the traditional speed dating formulae.

Published by Utility Helpline on (modified )