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Gloucester pub trade facing customer crisis

By The Citizen  |  Posted: October 19, 2012

  • "DIFFICULT INDUSTRY" Gary Teague, manager of Teague's Bar, inset

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PUB landlords need fresh ideas on how to attract drinkers if they are to survive, says the chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale in Gloucester.

The flagging pub trade needs reinvigoration as more people consider alternative entertainment or stock up on cheap supermarket booze.

The Northend Vaults, owned by Enterprise Inns, and The Pig Inn the City in Westgate Street remain closed, a sign of a downturn in fortunes for landlords.

Alan Stephens is chairman of the Gloucester branch of CAMRA.

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"Drinking habits have changed, largely down to cheap supermarket deals," he said. "But landlords need to be more visionary in their approach if they are to attract more drinkers in. Back in the 1960s and 70s, The New Inn used to be the social centre of Gloucester. It is very different now.

"So many pubs are in historic buildings – it would be a tragedy if more were to close."

Mr Stephens says despite the gloomy outlook, pubs near residential areas, such as the Greyhound in Longlevens, are thriving, as people don't have to drive there.

Gary Teague, manager of Teague's Bar in Kingsholm Road says without match day trade from the rugby club, he would already be out of business.

"The turning point came in 2007 when the 24-hour opening hours kicked in," he said.

"That was the first nail in the coffin for the pub trade and it has got gradually worse since.

"If my regulars knew we were staying open until 11, with music and entertainment, they would stop here for the night. With other clubs offering late-night drinking, that doesn't happen so much now and we have to try and compete.

"People's drinking habits have changed dramatically in the last few years and the smoking ban has put some people off.

"It is a very difficult industry to operate in at the moment. The issues of cheap supermarket alcohol has never really been addressed, that has had a big effect.

"My lease is up next year and I'm not sure if I'm going to renew it."

The Registry is one late-night bar to benefit from recent investment.

Its general manager, Neil Joyner, says pubs shouldn't view late-night bars and clubs as direct competition and work together to help revive the evening economy in the city.

"Improving the quality of nightclubs and late-night bars will help complement the traditional pub market in Gloucester," he said.

"The improvements we've made at The Registry will encourage more people out at night to help the traditional pub trade.

"We are all part of the same industry."

Mr Joyner has added to calls from club bosses at Liquid to reduce binge drinking in the city by banning cheap drink promotions.

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  • richardbak  |  October 22 2012, 11:28AM

    ive never bought beer from a supermarket, i go the pub for social reasons not because i need to drink. I now dont go to the "posher" pubs in cheltenham because of the expensive prices, the swan, vine, strand and taylors in cheltenham charge about £3.80 for a guiness which is ridiculous, ive just come back from warrington and a guiness was £2.20 in a roughish pub, but £1.60 cheaper, how do they do that? cheltenham is a rip off town in many ways and pub prices in the posher places are ridiculous and they are losing my money because of it.

  • NibNobs  |  October 20 2012, 9:41AM

    For years and years we were unaware of how cheap booze could be, because it was only available in pubs or brewery owned off licences, along came the supermarkets getting alcohol licences and it all changed, whilst supermarkets get bigger & bigger, and in greater numbers & more local people have chosen to stay at home. Pubs have been made LESS attractive with the greater awareness of the drink driving laws, the smoking ban, the higher cost of getting to a pub (petrol has risen in cost by 21% in 12 months) the well publicised booze culture & the chance of trouble in town centres, and the higher town centre parking charges. Drinking at home has become MORE attractive due to better availabilty of booze, low supermarket prices, big screen TV's in homes, growing use of the internet & on-line shopping, social media to communicate with friends rather than face to face. It's simply become more convienient & cheaper to stay home.

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  • marma495  |  October 20 2012, 8:48AM

    Take a business that has say 100 employees and 21% fail to turn up for work. Productivity would be down. Likewise take a pub that had 100 regular customers and the Government banned 21% of them from coming in, ----------------why the surprise? The turning point came in 2007 but nothing to do with the 24 hour drinking regulations.

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  • suffolkpunch  |  October 19 2012, 1:12PM

    People started to desert pubs and clubs when the smoking ban was introduced. Price was never an issue as people went to pubs and clubs to socialise and not for cheap drinks. The only way to stop thousands more from closing is to get exemptions to the ban.

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  • nickthompson  |  October 19 2012, 11:55AM

    We MUST keep up this relentless drive on banning the terrible crime of people smoking,even in the open air. IN THE MEANTME Alcohol abuse could be costing the UK up to £6 billion a year in NHS bills, premature death, losses to business and drink-related crimes and accidents, it was claimed today. A study by the Royal College of Physicians said drink-related health problems could account for up to 12% of total NHS spending on hospitals, about £3 billion. But campaigners said that with the estimated £3 billion lost through absenteeism, unemployment, premature deaths and alcohol-related crimes and accidents the total cost of excessive drinking is £6 billion.

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  • andyntracy1  |  October 19 2012, 11:53AM

    Well for a start Loud music where ya cant hear anyone talking is a huge put off and alot of the older drinkers dont want that, they just want to go out have a few with mates and family and chill and enjoy the low music and conversations, having clean clear tables is another thing people like and not have to wait till they sit down to get a table wiped, access to bar games ie darts, pool, crib, dominies, carpet bowls or skittles also promotion nights

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  • softtabor  |  October 19 2012, 11:43AM

    Beer and spirits should have a starting price of £10 per unit, that way the poor people would be excluded , allowing them to do something worthwhile with their money.

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  • geraint2010  |  October 19 2012, 10:11AM

    It is not all bad news you know! Our village, which is off the beaten track and some 7 miles from Gloucester, has a population of only 560 souls or so. Nevertheless we have 2 pubs: the first being a tiny attractive riverside hostelry with a fascinating history which is popular with locals and cyclists alike. It serves a range of competitively priced real ales and has won several CAMRA awards. The other one despite the landlord being not particularly welcoming especially if you only want a drink, is nevertheless popular for the excellence of its food. And if that is not enough for you we also have a thriving sports club which doubles as a cheap and cheerful watering hole for many of the locals - many of whom don't know one end of a cricket bat from another! The secret of success, if there is one, seems to be to own the freehold of your establishment and to offer something a little different and better than your competitors.

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  • snapper  |  October 19 2012, 9:59AM

    Enterprise Inns also own The Red Lion (Huntley) and the Travellers Rest (Malswick) as well as The Northend Vaults? Is it just a coincidence that all have recently closed? Apparently, this huge pubco increased the pubs' rents by a large amount making the businesses not viable for the landlords! These pubcos are only interested in how much they can squeeze from each pub with no thought of the customers & local communities that use them.

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  • Zindafud  |  October 19 2012, 9:25AM

    I went to a gastro-pub last night - a Thursday night in Swindon. £4.00 for a pint, and about £30.00 a head for a three-course meal. The place was packed. It's not all about price - it's about marketing and demographics. There is still a place for traditional pubs, but some are not changing to meet an evolving market.

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