My Shout

Community pubs - the great success story?

By Lawson Mountstevens, managing director at Star Pubs & Bars

- Last updated on GMT

Community pubs - the great success story?

Related tags: Investment

The presumed death of the great British local has been a popular subject in headlines for many years - especially on slow news days. While it's true that wet-led pubs can no longer open their doors with a 'they'll just come' attitude, that's not the whole story. There are plenty of pub rebirths taking place weekly, around the country, which should be celebrated with the same passion that we mourn closings.

In our experience, community locals that move with the times and receive the investment they need to meet customers' changing expectations and demand for higher quality are thriving as never before.

Customers want more, and they no longer expect to have to travel to a city or local town to get it. They should be able to find the same great quality coffee, food and drink served in a comfortable, stylish setting on their doorstep at a time that suits them. Pubs have always evolved and need to continue to do so.

This year, we have spent more than £5M on major investments of community locals. The difference between the 'before' and 'after' pictures is just as exciting as the new design of any cutting-edge bar opening.

And they're not just busy after work like the locals of old, but throughout the day from morning coffee to night-time entertainment. And with a shortage of meeting places and halls in many areas, pubs are picking up the slack, by reopening function rooms and converting little used offices into multi-purpose rooms hosting everything from kickboxing to children's music classes.

In turn, these communities are spending disposable income in the rejuvenated pubs, often opting for premium products that have been added to the range post investment. It becomes a virtuous circle. It's often said that prices in pubs are too high and drive customers away. It's not as simple as that. In fact where you hear that argument, it is usually because other elements of the offer are old and tired. Those customers will happily pay more for a great beer experience in quality surroundings.

Publicans who have the vision to adapt their offer and invest can attest to significant increase in takings.

But while a pub has to be viable to survive, the returns from a good local are about more than money, and there's an element of satisfaction when a local is revived and returned to the heart of its community. As one resident commented when news of our latest investment at the Bird I'th Hand in Manchester hit the papers last month: "Best story of the week."

None of this would be possible without the publican. It's the 'can do' attitude of the UK's publicans that's keeping our locals alive.

Related topics: Other operators

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