Phil MeekinView Profile
Pubs are facing a crisis with more than 26 watering holes in the UK currently closing every week. Due to greedy premises owners, cheap supermarket beer and rising prices all hit trade.
According to the latest figures from CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, even more locals could face imminent closure as the quiet first quarter of the year takes its toll on drinking establishments. It is a sentiment insolvency and business turnaround specialists, Wilson Field, agree with and are responding to increasing numbers of failing pub businesses.
Pub-goers could find their nearest hostelries boarded up as hard-up publicans quit as a result of growing competition from chain-owned pubs. Chain pubs offer cheap or loss leader drinks to pull in punters. Falling sales are also to blame as people choose to drink cheap supermarket beer and wine at home. Rent increases and the continued effects of the smoking ban are also having an effect on pubs across the UK.
South Yorkshire-based Wilson Field says it is receiving calls from publicans across the UK desperate to take control of their financial situation. We believe more can be done to protect these businesses.
Paul Rogerson from Wilson Field, said; “We are seeing people who have run up debts in excess of hundreds of thousands of pounds thanks to falling trade. They have tried to keep up to date with HMRC but are subsidising their business from credit cards and loans and their homes are at risk.
“Others we see have been struggling to make ends meet with tax bills, loans and credit cards. They have external creditors as well. Many publicans have reached the stage where they are facing bankruptcy. They have debts made up of PAYE, VAT and Self Assessment and the banks are hassling them. Many do not even answer the phones.
“What people need to realise is that although these are difficult times, such situations can often be managed through intelligent business practices and we can help them to take control of their lives again. Don’t let this happen to your pub without taking appropriate advice to try and secure thebusiness first.”
The pub and beer industry adds £19 billion a year to the UK economy. It also employs more than 500,000 people nationwide.
The advice from Wilson Field comes at a time when the industry has called on action from the Government on Pub Company reform asking for a Pubs Watchdog.
CAMRA says they urgently require a Pubs Watchdog to prevent big pub companies, which own around a third of the UK’s pubs, putting many individual publicans’ pubs under pressure and risk of closure due to unfair practices.
Mike Benner, CAMRA’s Chief Executive, said; “Pubs are unnecessarily closing as tied licensees struggle to make their businesses succeed thanks to increased rents and inflated beer prices. It is vital that the Government step in to redress the balance with the implementation of an independent Pubs Watchdog and an option for licensees of large pub companies to opt for market rent-only agreements, allowing them to buy beer on the open market at cheaper prices.”
The Government discussed the plans to introduce the Pubs Watchdog and Statutory Code earlier this week after missing two key deadlines to progress these initiatives a year ago.