High rents, cheap booze, hit pub trade

Emily Dennis Beleaguered publicans fighting for the survival of their businesses have blamed high rents and supermarket sales of cheap alcohol for damaging their trade ahead of a crisis summit.

Emily Dennis

Beleaguered publicans fighting for the survival of their businesses have blamed high rents and supermarket sales of cheap alcohol for damaging their trade ahead of a crisis summit.

In a key survey sent to more than 100 Norfolk landlords, taxes on alcohol, business rates and the credit crunch were all listed as being key factors behind their struggles. The smoking ban and legislation and red tape were among the bottom five factors blamed for the decline in trade.

The survey undertaken by South Norfolk Council canvassed views from 103 landlords in the hope of stemming the decline of the traditional pub.


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The council wanted to seek publicans' views on how best to maintain a successful business in a bid to change the fortunes of failing pubs and save what for some is the last meeting place in the community.

The authority said that more than half of the publicans contacted sent in responses to the survey by its rural pubs scrutiny task group, making it one of the most successful surveys undertaken by the council.

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The cross-party task group is planning a September summit when all publicans contacted will be invited to attend.

Before the summit the task group will meet a pub chain, a local brewery and a representative of a company specialising in selling pubs.

The top five negative factors blamed for the decline in trade were: High rents, 97pc; supermarkets selling cheap alcohol, 96pc; tax on alcohol, 87pc; business rates, 85pc; the credit crunch, 85pc.

The bottom five factors were: The smoking ban, 65pc; beer tie constraints, 64pc; drink-drive laws, 41pc; legislation and red tape, 33pc; second homes, 12pc.

The top five positive ways to increase trade were: Customer service, 93pc; good food, 87pc; location and passing trade, 80pc; being child friendly, 66pc; being in good pub guides, 46pc.

The bottom five were: Advertising and marketing, 44pc; theme nights or quizzes, 44pc; longer opening hours, 34pc; diversification, 32pc; special offers such as two drinks for the price of one, 27pc.

Chairman of the task group, Keith Weeks, praised publicans for responding to the survey, and said: “I am confident that together we have a real determination to do something positive for the local trade.

“Publicans have responded magnificently to our survey and that also speaks volumes about the dreadful daily pressure they are under.

“I urge as many publicans as possible to come to our summit meeting at the end of September for which invitations will be sent out shortly.”

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