Innovate to resonate in the battle for survival

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Innovate to resonate in the battle for survival

Related tags Market growth monitor Innovation Cga peach Marcus jones

The news that the licensed trade continues to shrink is somewhat disheartening.

According to the Market Growth Monitor by AlixPartners and CGA Peach​, 679 licensed premises closed down in the past year, with the bulk of those closures made up of wet-led pubs.

That equates to nearly two closures a day, a dispiriting figure. The only slight ray of sunshine is that perhaps the closure rate is starting to slow — if you look at the five year figures, it was three a day, so, taking an optimistic view, to fall to two a day, while bleak, could mean we’re seeing a change in fortunes.

There’s no getting aways from the fact it’s tough to run pubs — and the Market Growth Monitor clearly shows that pubs that shy away from offering food are most at risk.


It’s the traditional community wet-led boozer that bears the brunt in this story — but is that any great surprise?

Communities are changing all the time — we talk about individual consumer’s tastes changing, but it’s those consumers that make up communities.

You can’t simply sit still and bemoan the fact the community no longer uses your business, if your business hasn’t evolved to embrace the changing community around it.


It’s not just about adding a food offer, it’s about innovating across the board, but doing it in an intelligent way that appeals to your changing customer base.
Other businesses, other retailers, are changing their offers, so pubs can’t afford to be left behind.

We recently hosted a roundtable discussion to talk about technology in pubs, and it was clear from the chat that there’s still a huge gulf where pubs are not embracing the opportunities technology brings.

There are some very smart operators out there, and we try to highlight as many of them as possible with events such as the Great British Pub Awards​ — I’d urge every operator to look outside their own silos, not just at the pub sector, but other areas of hospitality and retail as well, and see what ideas you can bring to innovate your business.


Of course, innovating is one thing, but having a level playing field is another! The news that rural operators are paying higher rates than urban pubs is infuriating. These are the pubs, as aforementioned, that are most at risk, with communities evolving and changing.

At the very least, they should be receiving the same level of support as their urban counterparts.

The pubs minister Marcus Jones has pledged to look into this, and I’d call for swift action from him to redress this balance as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, thinking about time pressures, there’s still a small window of opportunity for all you innovative operators to get your last minute entries into the Great British Pub Awards!

The extended deadline closes today so don’t waste any time — get online and register to enter now!

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