Bass to cut size of its flagship chain

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Bass' decision to scale down its All Bar One pubs in London could prompt a change in tack for companies targeting the female market.The move was...

Bass' decision to scale down its All Bar One pubs in London could prompt a change in tack for companies targeting the female market.

The move was sparked by declining sales across the chain and may come as a blow for the wave of original "female-friendly" bars which made a killing in the 1990s.

Bass is "de-branding" five of its 41 All Bar One outlets in the capital. Its other 11 sites will not be affected.

A spokeswoman said: "The brand continues to be our jewel in the crown and extremely profitable."

She added: "We are looking at bigger sites for the future."

The group is to go ahead with plans for new All Bar Ones in Islington, Croydon, Reading and Milton Keynes.

But in central London, the brand seems to have peaked.

Bass would not reveal which sites would cease to bear the All Bar One name, but the spokeswoman stressed the list did not include the flagship Leicester Square venue.

The brand was named last month as one of the female-friendly chains responsible for an increase in drinking among women.

A report by market analysis experts Datamonitor found that alcohol consumption among women was likely to rise from an average of 9.4 units per week in 1999 to a predicted 11.8 units per week in 2004.

Researchers attributed this trend to a changing attitude to drinking among women and a "less intimidating" atmosphere in modern pubs and bars.

The report mentioned All Bar One and Slug and Lettuce. Pitcher & Piano, owned by Wolverhampton & Dudley, was also very successful in the '90s but it has recently been the subject of takeover rumours and is far from the peak of its success.

Slug and Lettuce is up for sale and recently staged a "relaunch" to reinject the atmosphere which it said had been removed from the original sites.

Tom Innes, editor of Flavour, the sister magazine to thePublican.com serving style bars and themed venues, said: "In London, high-spending women of the type which used to regard All Bar One as the place to be seen are now looking to the rash of innovative one-off bars which have put the more traditional themed pubs under intense competitive pressure."

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