We don’t need to look too far into the future to see quite a different prospect for our pubs. In recent years we have seen a large number sold which were poorly located, outdated, under-invested and faced too much competition, which has left us with an industry that is leaner, fitter and more sustainable.
But there is always change and I believe the next two years will be critical, potentially altering the face of the industry forever.
Let’s assume the market-rent-only option is implemented. Over 80% of the market becomes “free of tie”. So will tenants of smaller pubcos and family brewers call for the same “rights”?
We could see the closure or sale of pubs that don’t work as managed houses or are not suitable investments. We could witness the right pubs in the right locations being sold as landlords seek to maximise their return, resulting in some being sold for alternative use.
Christie + Co’s own evidence shows an increase in the private freehouse sector, with 80% of pubs sold staying as trading pubs. The next five years will see an increase in the current number of
multiple-operating pubcos (currently around 300).
But in the following five years we will witness consolidation of these multiple companies as new “super pub companies” emerge.
Free of tie leases are comparable to other non- licensed property investments where there is an arm’s length relationship between the landlord and tenant. Pubs will become more attractive investments resulting in lower yields.
In 10 years’ time, we may see a market where there is no vertical integration between pubs and brewers, with pubs and bars owned and operated by companies and individuals. The largest international brewers could end up dominating the
market, which may drive down prices but could also reduce customer choice.
For some, this may be less than a positive prospective. However, like those that have been in this industry for many years, the pub sector will adapt and survive, whatever challenges it may face.