Number of pubs going bust soars

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Data dive: there has been a rise from 280 insolvencies to 512 according the information from UHY Hacker (image: Getty/Olivier Le Moal)
Data dive: there has been a rise from 280 insolvencies to 512 according the information from UHY Hacker (image: Getty/Olivier Le Moal)

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Pub and bar insolvencies have risen by more than three quarters (83%) in the past year, new research has revealed.

The rise – from 280 in 2020/21 to 512 – has been put down to a number of factors including the ongoing energy crisis and increased costs across the board.

The data, from accountancy group UHY Hacker, also outlined how the cost-of-living crisis has impacted consumer habits while rail strikes have prevented many customers from travelling to pubs in towns and city centres.

The accountancy firm highlighted how pub and bar businesses have little in the way of savings or capacity to borrow more cash and for some operators, the current economic downturn has been the final push into insolvency.

Difficult period

ADVERTISEMENT - Driving sales Inch by Inch

David Smith, bar manager at the University Arms in Sheffield, talks about how customers in his pub are making more sustainable choices and why Inch’s Cider is meeting the needs of those drinkers.  The traditional-style pub, which serves great food throughout the year, offers a wide range of real ales, lagers and ciders.

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Smith said: “We decided to stock Inch's due to its ethics and background. It uses apple waste and turns it into green energy, which is a great way to ‘waste-not-drink-not’.”

The venue, which is based within the university campus, has a five-year sustainability strategy, using local producers where possible, and baking bread fresh for dishes to ensure less food waste.  

Smith added: “Our customers see Inch’s not only as a refreshing cider but as a sustainable choice. Inch’s green credentials and background really appeals to the younger generation of drinkers. Its balance between sweet and dry means it has great taste credentials and is perfect for our pub.”   

For more information on Inch’s, see here​.

UHY Hacker partner Peter Kubik described the statistics as “deeply concerning many pubs and bars are closing their doors”.

He added: “In addition to the financial consequences for owners and employees, the loss of a pub can be felt quite keenly by the community.

“This is a particularly difficult period for pub and bar owners, who find they need to spend more and more while earning less and less.

“Following an extended period of lost revenues during the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis has been the final nail in the coffin for many.

“Perhaps the Government should consider what it can do to alleviate pressures, for instance, by extending the energy bill relief scheme for the hospitality sector.”

Official statistics

This followed figures from The Insolvency Service that showed the number of hospitality firms registered as insolvent had reached a decade high​.

According to the research, registered insolvencies in the ‘accommodation and food services’ sector rose 61% between 2021 and 2022, reaching a 10-year peak.

The increase was from 1,676 in 2021 to 2,704 in 2022 – a 77% hike. However, insolvencies in the previous two years have been lower than would be considered ‘normal’ in the hospitality industry.

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