The decline of the British pub

With recent figures showing that beer sales have slumped to their lowest levels since the 'Great Depression' of the 1930s, and government policy being to ever increase the tax on beer what hope is there for the Pub.

Beer sold in The UK carries taxes eight times greater than those in France, 32 pence per pint compared to 4 pence. No wonder then that pub beer sales have fallen by almost half, or more than 5 billion pints. Pubs are now pulling 14 million less pints than they did since the peak thirty years ago, figures from the British Beer and Pub Association [BBPA] showed.

With the soaring prices of barley, malt, glass, aluminium and energy prices sky high, the brewers who for so many years have made consistently good profits, are now beginning to feel the effects. The BBPA said that major UK Brewers have seen profits plummet by almost 80 percent, and claimed brewers make 0.7 pence per pint profit, compared to the average 33 pence per pint they pay in taxes.

So what about the people at the sharp end of all this, the pub landlord. Once upon a time if you ran a pub it was a profitable business to be in. The rents were reasonable, the margins good and the lifestyle a good one. Sadly things are not what they where. The continued hike in tax on beer, together with the deregulation of brewery owned pubs has lead to a free fall in the viability of most pubs. After deregulation and the scramble for pub estates by companies who knew nothing about the beer trade the inevitable rent rises began.

Pub estates are now viewed as property portfolios. The pub chain is not solely interested in beer sales as such but more the high rent revenues generated by their estates. Because of these factors there has been a huge turnover of tenants over recent years, with people finding it impossible to make a living. The seemingly ever-ending line of people wanting to live the dream and run their own pub is now drying up. Where once taking on a pub as a business was a good idea, now the penny has dropped and most prospective landlords realise that it is quick way of going broke.

The future of the pub does not look good. Certainly there will always be pubs that will survive, but equally certainly there are a vast number that will not, which is sad for us all. High taxes and greed have condemned the great British pub to a slow death.


Leave a comment