Regional report

What makes Birmingham a good place to run a pub?

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Young at heart: find out why youth rules in Birmingham in our latest regional report
Young at heart: find out why youth rules in Birmingham in our latest regional report
A huge 40% of Birmingham’s population is claimed to be aged under 25 – and there’s plenty of places to eat and drink to satisfy those numbers

Done deals

The Frog Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire

The Frog

Price: £75,000

Tenure: Leasehold

Rent: £26,500

Landlord: Enterprise Inns

Turnover: £567,928

Wet:dry split: 80:20

Agent: Guy Simmonds 01332 865112

This traditional riverside inn with moorings sits alongside the River Avon in the village of Bidford-on-Avon. The business has a lounge bar (circa 45 covers), public bar (16c), restaurant (40c), riverside terrace area (24c) and riverside lawned garden (60c). There is a catering kitchen, car park and three-bedroom living accommodation.


The Drovers Inn Gussage All Saints, Dorset

The Drovers Inn

Guide price: £75,000

Tenure: Leasehold

Rent: £32,000

Landlord: Private

Turnover: £235,000

Wet:dry split: 50:50

Agent: Davey Co 0333 200 8788

The previous licensee operated the pub for three years following a comprehensive renovation. It is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty. There is lounge bar and dining for 60 and a large en-suite letting bedroom with potential for more. The garden has potential for letting pods and glamping.

While Birmingham slugs it out with Manchester to be named the second city of the UK there is no argument that it is densely populated with a large number of licensed premises.

According to mid-year population estimates, 1,141,400 people lived in Birmingham in 2018. And according to the Birmingham Economic Review, it is the youngest major city in Europe, with under-25s accounting for almost 40% of its population.

The latest alcohol licensing statistics reveal there are 2,343 premises with licences to sell alcohol in the Birmingham Metropolitan District. While statistics from the British Beer & Pub Association show there are 418 pubs that employ 12,476 people in the city. So as well as being a densely populated area it is a city that has an abundance of places to eat and drink.

Broad Street, Mailbox, the canal and the Bullring shopping centre are all areas that boast a plethora of licensed premises. There is also a raft of new leisure developments being brought on stream such as the Smithfield development as well as the HS2 train line due to arrive in the city.

Plenty of new entrants

Despite the large number of premises, there seems to be no sign that operators are shy of entering the market. You only have to look at the number of operators setting up shop and those who are doubling up in the city with Be At One and the Alchemist to name a few.

In September 2018, Mosaic Pub and Dining, the pub operator led by James Watson and Peter McDonald purchased three new premises in the city.

Watson told The Morning Advertiser​ that Birmingham has been successful for the operator, which now has six sites in the city, including the Distillery and the Button Factory.

Watson says that, as a young company in 2015, it was looking for suitable sites across the country.

“I didn’t know Birmingham very well. We saw a good site and it seemed good value compared to having worked in London all my life,” he says.

Birmingham in numbers


There are 418 pubs that employ 12,476 people in the city (Source: British Beer & Pub Association)

1,141,400 people live in Birmingham according to the 2018 mid-year population estimates. This is an increase of 4,300 (0.4%) people since 2017

  • 22.8% (259,000) are children
  • 64.3% (731,500) are of working age
  • 13.0% (147,900) are pensioners

(Source: Birmingham City Council)

Confidence boost

It was the success of his first site the Button Factory that gave them the confidence to go back and open more venues. Watson says the company would be keen to open more sites beyond its six in the developing city.

“We realised that Birmingham has a lot of good locals, a busy social scene, was a friendly city and has a good spend per head compared to other cities that you would have thought would have a higher spend,” he says.

Fleurets division director Andy Tudor says that Mosaic Pub and Dining is not the only operator recognising the growth potential in Birmingham, which he calls “thriving”.

“One of the notable things is that you have got good operators coming in from out of town,” he says.

“Laine Pub Company from London and Brighton has bought a small package of three. Mosaic has moved into the city in a relatively big way and Mission Mars is opening up here,” he says.

The city also has the benefit, he argues, of attracting a vast range of clientele and is not just reliant on the younger population.

While he admits that the fast-casual food sector has struggled, the pub and bar sector is doing very well. And it is not just standard pub and bar operators that are seeing success but more experiential bars such as Serve, the table tennis bar to Flight Club and Ghetto Golf, he argues.

“We were a post-industrial city 25 years ago and now you have cocktail bars, gin bars, Prosecco bars – which you would not have dreamt of,” he says.

Birmingham (1)

Capacity not reached yet

The area around the Cathedral Quarter is proving popular with operators and rents are at a premium, he reveals.

But there are some pitfalls. The popularity has resulted in changes to areas outside the city.

“It has damaged all the satellite towns because people are travelling in from much further afield into Birmingham. It does mean some of the smaller towns that are 20 to 30 miles out are suffering a bit,” he says.

And there is the danger of over saturation of licensed premises within Birmingham.

Tudor says the city is “edging” towards being over saturated and heading to a “tipping point”.

“It doesn’t seem to be at capacity yet but there is the risk,” he argues.

Birmingham (3)

Circuit is changing

Meanwhile, Paul Tallentyre, executive director at David Coffer Lyons, believes the city has already hit saturation and has faced a lot of change in the areas of Mailbox, the canal, and Broad Street.

He says many of the corporate operators have been paying “big rents” that have not been sustainable.

“The circuit is changing and people are having to spend money where they are to maintain their commitment to their leases,” he says.

“Rents are still punchy. It is survival of the best. It is a hard market.”

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

Related topics: Property law

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