The benefits of micropubs

By Robert Sayles

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cost Cask ale

The benefits of micropubs
‘It appears to have everything prospective publicans crave; low start up costs, choice of location, competitive rent and FOT on a fantastic range of cask ales. It's the way to go for many of those thinking about entering the trade, isn’t it?’

Are you one of those harbouring thoughts about running a pub but continually dissuaded by the negative publicity surrounding pubcos?
Well it seems that a viable alternative exists; the micropub​.

Much is made by pubcos of their desire to attract to attract budding entrepreneurs to the trade. Many would counter that such pronouncements amount to little more than empty rhetoric from an industry desperately committed to ensuring the shackles of the tied model remain firmly in place.    

Some it seems have become weary of waiting for change and have taken matters into their own hands, creating a viable and seemingly sustainable alternative.  

The micropub is a simple yet highly effective concept, one that appears to offer a viable alternative to the traditional route most people feel obliged to take. Find a well located retail premises, anything from a newsagents to a butcher shop, and convert it into a pub!

It seems that one major benefit of the Licensing Act was the removal of many of the barriers that made such a process both legally daunting and prohibitively expensive prior to the enactment of the legislation in 2005.

Given the much publicised problems currently besetting the trade, a scaled down low cost model such as this appears to offer some highly tangible benefits:

  • Low cost entry - given the unprecedented escalation of pub closures, a plethora of bar equipment is available from sites such as eBay; all at highly competitive prices.
  • Flexibility of location - the number of vacant retail units on the high street ensures a wide variety of potential sites are available.
  • Landlords desperate to get their vacant premises trading again will almost certainly be amenable to highly competitive deals.
  • Product Range - the ability to offer an impressive range of cask ales from microbrewers at very affordable prices.
  • Small, often cramped premises.

What’s so appealing about small cramped premises? Given the escalating costs of running a traditional pub; small retail units undoubtedly offer an opportunity to streamline outgoings. (Many tenants currently exiting the trade cite excessive running costs as the primary factor influencing their decision to leave).

I think it’s fair to say that industry has never needed a scaled down low cost model more than it does right now.

There’s an additional benefit. It seems the cramped surroundings encourage people to adopt some rather strange behavioural traits.
Starved of both technological and visual stimulation customers feel obliged to engage in the good old art of conversation; often with people they’ve never seen before!

In the good old days such antics wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. The fact that it now does illustrates the extent to which many pubs that have willingly embraced the noise invasion of satellite TV, AWPs and the dreaded jukebox to the detriment of basic human interaction.  

So, will a USP that focuses on getting back to ‘core’ values be sufficient to lure punters back? Quite possibly.

Just as importantly; will it be enough to convince the budding entrepreneurs out there that running a pub might not be such a bad idea after all?

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