More pub jobs despite closures

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

The food factor: pubs are employing more people than a decade ago despite many closures
The food factor: pubs are employing more people than a decade ago despite many closures

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There are more jobs in pubs and bars compared to a decade ago, possibly because of an increase in pubs taking a food-led approach, official figures show.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the licensed trade has seen a 6% rise in jobs since 2008, despite a dip during the recession.

The ONS found that total turnover for the industry has remained flat despite a staggering figure of almost one in four pubs having closed in the period.

More than 11,000 pubs have closed, with around 39,000 remaining. 

The report, ​titled the Economies of Ale​, has caused reiterations of trade concern for the survival of smaller pubs and highlighted regional disparities.

Small pubs disappearing 

It is mostly small, independently owned pubs that have disappeared, and pub chains have also switched their focus from small pubs to larger bars.


Commuter towns have suffered the most pub losses, with Barking & Dagenham, Newham and Luton having fewer than half the pubs they did in 2001.

Areas with strong tourism economies – such as Highland, Scotland; Blackpool; and Brighton – saw increases, or the same number, of pubs.

Pubs had a median number of five employees a decade ago – a figure that has increased to eight, partly because of smaller pubs’ closures.

A move towards food-led models, involving labour-intensive kitchen operations, was also attributed as a factor.

Meanwhile, figures show seven in 10 workers in the industry are paid less than living wage.

Calls for Government help 

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the data underlined the need for Government support to help the industry, which is a crucial job provider.

Closures were a "sure sign that costs are continuing to increase, and margins squeezed as a result," she said.

“Despite this, pubs are investing in their teams and employment in the sector has increased significantly since the low in 2010. The number of people working in pubs is back to pre-recession levels, but this will be under threat if costs continue to rise.

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said cost pressures, such as beer duty, business rates and food inflation, were driving closures.

“The pub sector is proud of its role as a major UK employer and so the ONS data showing that pubs are employing more people than ever before is welcome news," she added.

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Diverse offers

Simmonds continued: "This reflects that many smaller pubs are closing and larger pubs will inevitably employ more people.

"Pubs are also diversifying their offer to create an experience that appeals to the changing needs of consumers, hence the transition towards more food and entertainment-led establishments.

"Pubs now serve 1bn meals each year and have 50,000 bedrooms. They are a vital part of both our international and domestic tourism market."

Chancellor Phillip Hammond's beer tax freeze in this month's Budget will aid the viability of the community pubs, Simmonds said.

Interested in working in the pub industry? Then take a look at MA’s​ jobs site​.

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