Regional report

What makes Manchester a good place to own a pub?

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Fiscal fast track: Manchester is the focus as the city centre and surrounding areas enjoy a big increase in popularity
Fiscal fast track: Manchester is the focus as the city centre and surrounding areas enjoy a big increase in popularity
A thriving area, Manchester city centre and its suburbs is booming as the number of premise licences continues to rise

Manchester in numbers

There are 416 pubs in the Manchester City Council area while Greater Manchester boasts 1,912 pubs. (Source: BBPA)

­There are 8,978 people directly employed in the pub sector and 11,635 in total (this includes the supply chain). (Source: BBPA)

­There were 381,500 people in 2016 working in Manchester. In the city centre ward this number was 137,500. (Source: The Business Register and Employment Survey, annual, national survey of employees and employment, carried out by the O­ffice for National Statistics).

Manchester city is booming. It is in the middle of a mass regeneration with apartments, hotels and o­ffices being built at a rapid rate.

According to reports on Twitter there are a record 65 cranes dotted across the city centre.

The leisure sector is also booming with new pubs, bars and restaurants continuing to open and no signs of this slowing down.


According to statistics from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), there are 416 pubs in the Manchester City Council area while Greater Manchester boasts 1,912 pubs. This is not the whole story as the latest Government statistics of alcohol and late-night refreshment licensing England and Wales to 31 March 2018, show the number of premises licences for venues selling alcohol in the metropolitan district of Manchester hit 1,911, up from 1,772 in 2012.

Major high street pub operators such as Stonegate, Mitchells & Butlers, BrewDog and JD Wetherspoon have sites within the city – while a raft of entrepreneurial operators are continuing to open sites – meaning Manchester has a vibrant growing late-night economy.

Population expectations

On the market in Manchester

Lower Turk’s Head & Scuttlers, Manchester
Lower Turks

Price: £2,950,000

Tenure: Freehold and leasehold

Rent: Scuttlers wine bar is leasehold, subject to an annual rent of £15,000

Turnover: Net 2017 – £885,729

Wet:dry split: 92.5:7.5

Agent: Christie & Co 0161 833 6909

The Lower Turk’s Head occupies four-storeys while ‘Scuttlers’ wine bar occupies an adjacent three-storey mid terrace. There is a first-floor bar, function suite, roof terrace and seven bedrooms (four en-suite).

The Railway Tavern Leigh, Greater Manchester

Price: £165,000

Tenure: Leasehold for 999 years

Landlord: Private

Agent: Fleurets 0161 683 5445

The Railway Tavern is a wet-led local that also benefits from games machine income. It has a lounge bar, taproom, games room, beer patio and parking. The side beer patio attracts families and passing trade. The business is rented to a multiple operator but will be sold with vacant possession.


The Bierkeller The Printworks, Manchester

Price: Nil premium

Tenure: Free-of-tie leasehold

Rent: £189,999

Turnover: £2,740,833

Agent: Davis Coffer Lyons 0207 299 0740

The venue occupies a lower ground floor and part ground floor area of The Printworks in the heart of the city. The venue is fitted to a very high standard. The leisure scheme houses a cinema, gym and many bars and restaurants.

If you factor in the transport links with Metrolink, which allows easy access to the city from the suburbs, as well as the influx of football fans coming to watch the successful Manchester City and Manchester United teams, the city is not just frequented by occupants.

The areas of Deansgate, Canal Street, Spinningfields, Northern Quarter, Deansgate Locks and Peter Street, which has been revived with the arrival of Albert Schloss and Impossible, are all leisure destinations within the city.

According to the Manchester City Council’s State of the City Report 2018 much of the growth is concentrated in the city centre and surrounding areas with 100,000 extra city centre residents expected by 2025 – bringing the population to just over 644,000.

While there are retirees living in the city centre areas, many of those living in the city are students, graduates and young professionals, attracted by employment opportunities, good quality accommodation as well as the leisure offers. The report also reveals 36% of graduates indigenous to Manchester came back to work in the city after leaving university in 2016-17. It also warns that this predicted growth in population could be constrained if the housing demand is not met, with the city remaining under-supplied by 750 units per annum to 2025. Despite this boom, Manchester city centre still faces its challenges with many of the over-50s facing a skill shortage, the growth of rough sleepers as well as an increase in certain types of crime.

However, according to information in the report, it is the third most visited UK destination with 1.32m international visitors in 2017 (source: International Passenger Survey). Tim Martin, senior associate at property agent Fleurets Manchester O­ffice, says the city centre is a maturing market.

Old Trafford

“There has been such a boom over the past few years in terms of investment. You still have a growing youthful population in Manchester and it’s a growing city,” he adds.

Martin adds much of the growth has been from the bar and restaurant sector but with city centre pubs remaining popular.

While many young professionals, employed in the centre, are now also living there – some may have bought their own apartments – but many are renting as residential landlords capitalise on the growth.

“People that live there are not at family stage and when they get to the point where they are at family stage, they move out to the suburbs,” he says.

This has seen many areas such as the affluent Altrincham and Didsbury become more popular for potential pub operators.

While the growth continues in the city centre, there has been some pub closures due to the changes, Martin says.

“There is almost a doughnut ring around the city centre, where the inner-city areas such as Hulme, Beswick and Hardwich, now have a lot fewer pubs than there used to be,” he says.

“If you live a 10-minute walk from the city centre – and your local boozer is not cutting it – you are going to head into town.”

And there does not appear to be any shortage of takers for sites in the booming city centre.

“We have work on a confidential basis because people are con dent that can sell premises without going to the open market,” Martin says.

This is a view supported by Keith Stringer, director at Christie & Co’s Manchester o­ ce, who says it has already seen an increase in demand for sites.

“We have had southern-based operators, who have got successful brands looking outside the capital, and looking at Manchester as the obvious go to choice,” he says.

“While we have operators coming into the city from the south, existing operators, that are successful, are looking for second sites.”

But the boom means rents have crept up and are high.

“Manchester has followed London in terms of rent levels,” he says.

Town hall

“If we get good sites, we get multiple o­ffers on them. You often find if there is an existing operator looking for a second site they will probably come to us and ask us to source a site. Landlords would sooner deal with someone who is already established and successful rather than a new tenant.”

The fantastic four

While much of the growth has been fuelled by the bar sector, Manchester boasts four family brewers in JW Lees, Holts, Hydes and Robinsons.

A spokesperson for JW Lees says: “Rain Bar on Great Bridgewater Street has been trading for 20 years and is still breaking sales records. Although the city centre landscape has changed, we’re still very relevant, adapting to changing tastes by introducing new beers and food menus to complement our core o­ffering.

In Rain Bar, you can enjoy a pint of Moonraker, brewed since the 1950s, or a one-o­ff Boilerhouse beer, brewed in two 10-barrel batches available for one month only.

“We’re also a lager brewery and with Manchester Craft Lager, launched in November 2017, we have found new customers and new city centre outlets that are enjoying the boom in British-brewed craft lager.”

On the market elsewhere

The Wellington Arms Sandhurst, Hampshire


Price: £150,000

Tenure: Leasehold

Rent: £78,500

Landlord: Brakspear

Turnover: £757,661

Wet:dry: accom split: 85:10:5

Agent: Davey Co 0333 200 8788

A new entrant to the pub-restaurant sector has operated the pub for the past eight years. The inn and restaurant has well-presented trading areas, offering dining inside for around 80-plus covers, and terrace and garden trading areas for 230-plus covers.

There are six en-suite letting bedrooms with scope for more using the five-room owner’s accommodation.


The Roundhouse, Nottingham


Price: £49,995

Tenure: Free-of-tie lease

Rent: £35,000

Turnover: c£381,591 (inc VAT)

Wet:dry split: 60:40

Agent: Guy Simmonds 01332 865112

This inn is located in the popular Castle Quarter of Nottingham. This circular property was originally the Jubilee wing of the former General Hospital that opened in 1902 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

There is an open-plan trading area (circa 100-plus covers and standing room), a ground-floor beer cellar, commercial kitchen, alfresco area (80 covers). There is o­ff-street parking for the business owner.

To find out more about pubs for sale, lease and tenancy visit our property site​.

Related topics: Property law

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