Simon Chaplin, corporate pubs director at Christie + Co, said there were about 21,500 tenanted/leased pubs at the beginning of 2014 compared to 20,000 freehouses, but he expects these numbers to swap by the end of next year.
“The gradual sale of bottom-end pubs from tenanted pub companies means more are falling into private ownership. The numbers will come to parity soon and by the end of 2015, I reckon we will see the figures swap,” he told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser.
He said he also expects the number of managed houses, which currently lies at about 9,200, to continue to grow due to disposals from tenanted pub companies and the growth of new managed estates, but estimated that 12,000 is “probably the limit”. “I’d be surprised if the number of managed pubs crossed 12,000, because they need to turn over around £18,000 to £20,000 a week,” he said.
“There just isn’t the capacity in the country to expand more than that — we’d all have to start eating and drinking out an extra 30%
“Managed pubs won’t overtake the number of tenanted and leased premises.”
He added that the overall number of pubs will remain stagnant going forward, despite latest figures from the Campaign for Real Ale showing the net pub closure rate has risen to 31 per week.
“There are still the same number of licensed premises, it is just a question of what they’re turned into and what is classed as a pub. There are so many more restaurant-type venues now.”
Regarding freehold sales, he said prices for pubs in London were up 29% during the 12 months to June 2014, compared to the previous year. The south (not including London) also saw a large increase of up to 15%, while prices in the south-west were up by 9%.
However, prices in the Midlands, East Anglia and the north, remained level.
Chaplin said: “It reflects a large number of receiver-ship and pubco disposals in the Midlands and north, many of which are now being snapped up by savvy buyers because these prices are unlikely to be seen again for some time.”