UK needs to lose further 1,000 pubs, warns top property agent

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pub industry, United kingdom, Uk

Christie+Co's Neil Morgan: 'We’re almost there now — just another 1,000 or thereabouts need to go'
Christie+Co's Neil Morgan: 'We’re almost there now — just another 1,000 or thereabouts need to go'
The pub industry needs to lose another 1,000 sites within the next couple of years to achieve a “healthy” marketplace — that’s according to Christie+Co director Neil Morgan.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​, prior to the agent’s annual Business Outlook report launch last week, Morgan said that there needs to be fewer than 50,000 pubs in the UK.

“There are far too many pubs in the UK,” he said. “As far back as 1999, we said that there were 10,000 pubs too many. We’re almost there now — just another 1,000 or thereabouts need to go.

“If we get it below the 50,000 mark then I think we’ve got ourselves a healthy pub market. It’s the right pubs that are closing.”

Alternative uses

He said that the “continuous erosion” of the United Kingdom’s manufacturing and industrial base — including the closures of coal mines — has meant that “corner boozers” no longer have a viable future, other than in an alternative capacity.

Tenanted pub companies

However, he said that the tenanted pub companies are starting to improve the marketplace by “cleaning up their act” in regard to improving their relationships with tenants.

“What they want to get away from is the revolving-door tenant syndrome.

“And I think that business development managers are becoming better trained and equipped for the changing style of operations, where we’re going from an industry that was very much wet-dominated to one that is on the food side,” he added.

“There has been quite a sea change in terms of where the pub industry is and I think that is going to carry on this year.”

Pub structure

In terms of the structure of the UK pub industry, he said that there are now far fewer tenanted/leased pubs compared to 2007 — around 21,000 now, compared to 28,600 at the beginning of the recession — a similar number of managed pubs (9,000), and more privately-owned freeholds, numbering around 26,000 compared to circa 17,000 seven years ago.

He also said that in the last quarter of 2013, he noticed an increase in the number of publicans taking lease assignments, which is a “real positive step”.

Related topics: Property law

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