'Too many pubs think food is the saviour': operators defend future of wet-led venues

By Emily Sutherland contact

- Last updated on GMT

Analysis revealed there has been a 404% decline in the number of wet-led venues
Analysis revealed there has been a 404% decline in the number of wet-led venues

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage, Beer

There is still a bright future for wet-led pubs according to leading operators, who have argued that a ‘move to food’ is not the answer in the wake of figures revealing a 4.4% decline in wet-led pubs over the last year.

Analysis from CGA Peach and Alix Partner’s Market Growth Monitor​ showed that the bulk of the industry’s growth had come from food-led venues, and that pubs that had closed were more dependent on alcohol, and particularly on beer sales, than the average.

Dark Star ​director James Cuthbertson told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​: “At Dark Star we believe there is room for wet led pubs in the market, but conditions need to be right. A wet led pub with a poor offer under an onerous tie is no more likely to succeed that a food led pub with crap food. Too many operators think food is the saviour, truth is, profitability under a sensible agreement is the path to success, and longevity. The great thing about a wet led venue is that you don't have to stick in a £200k kitchen or employ staff to wait tables to people that have just finished watching the latest series of MasterChef and think they know it all.

“We've always believed that our pubs, and currently they are wet led, are places were people come, enjoy a beer, talk bollocks and maybe share a dream or two, some of those dreams may even turn into something, most won't, but at least they've shared them in good company, over a decent pint.”

Alex Greig, who runs Tunbridge Well’s craft beer specialist Fuggles Beer Café, added: “I think there’s definitely a future for wet led pubs but location is paramount. The driving force behind a successful wet led pub has to be the quality of the product. Much like with a decent food offering, having a well looked after product is essential - no one’s going to come back for a pint of something that doesn’t taste as it should. Alongside that, having an interesting range of drinks, something to help stand out from the crowd, be that some specialist beers or an extended gin range.

“I wouldn’t say the traditional boozer is on its back. If it’s run properly and the standards are high people will be there. Focus on quality and staff training; it keeps the customers coming back time and time again.”

According to the Market Growth Report, the number of licensed restaurants has outstripped the number of community pubs for the first time. 

Related topics: Beer

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