Pub closure figures taken from CGA Strategy’s Outlet Index show the number of ‘non-managed’ pubs declined from 32,117 in December 2005 to 27,000 in March 2013 — a fall of 15.9%.
By contrast, the number of pubs in the independent freetrade (IFT) fell by 9.5% in the same period, from 22,324 to 20,193.
However, pub company representatives, in an effort to show that the tenanted model remains competitive, regularly claim that more free-of-tie pubs are closing than tied pubs.
In June, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), told the Parliamentary Business, Innovation & Skills Committee: “Free-of-tie pubs are closing at a faster rate than tied pubs. That is real evidence. It comes out of a number of surveys taken over a whole period of years.” It is a claim she has repeated in various interviews and press releases.
Greg Mulholland MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, said: “Pub net closures have repeatedly been misinterpreted in the media, by the industry and by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. It is now time the Government admitted it has been duped by the pubcos and their discredited lobbying body, the BBPA.”
Fair Pint campaigner Simon Clarke added: “Anyone with a modicum of common sense knew the BBPA claim that freetrade pubs were closing faster than tied had to be wrong. The figures actually demonstrate that, given a chance, with a market rent-only option, many pubs could operate viably and not be lost to corporate greed.”
However, Jon Collins, chief executive of CGA Strategy, refused to criticise the BBPA’s use of the pub closure figures. “There’s a legitimate way of looking at the numbers from both angles. It has not been a case of the BBPA massaging the figures. Actual closure figures between the IFT and the non-managed sectors have always been similar.
"At any given time you can show that one has declined faster than the other."
There were 7,025 IFT pub closures compared with 5,641 non-managed closures between 2005 and 2013.
However, when openings and transfers in and out of the tenure groupings are taken into account, the highest rate of decline is in the managed sector, followed by non-managed, then IFT.
Collins also cautioned that CGA’s research does not identify the nature of lease agreements, saying: “You’d expect a large element of tie in the non-managed figures, but you can’t necessarily read that into them.”
A spokesman for the BBPA said: “Any suggestion that we have issued misleading figures on pub closures, or sought to misrepresent those figures, is totally incorrect.
“Whatever your perspective on the net or gross figures, it is quite clear the problem of pub closures should not be presented as a tied pub issue. It affects the entire sector and is caused by a complex range of other factors.”
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CGA pub closure figuresCGA pub closure figures.pdf 1.04 MB
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