Fuller’s: Pub closures will increase tenfold without business rates relief

By Hannah Currie, MCA

- Last updated on GMT

Consumer behaviour: Fuller's boss Simon Emeny outlines how the current challenges are impacting the group
Consumer behaviour: Fuller's boss Simon Emeny outlines how the current challenges are impacting the group

Related tags Multi-site pub operators Pubco + head office Property Legislation

Pub and restaurant closures will increase tenfold unless the government finds a more equitable way of raising tax through business rates, says Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s.

It comes after new figures showed that across the UK, 383 pubs closed up to the end of June​, almost matching the total for the whole of 2022 when 386 were lost.

Emeny told The Telegraph​ the sector would continue to see more closures, if the Government doesn’t extend the business rates relief for small businesses

“The tax burden on pubs is simply enormous. We, as a sector, account for 0.5pc of UK revenue, but we pay 2.5pc of UK business rates, so we’re disproportionately paying our way”, he added.  

However, the Fuller’s boss believes that pubs have an “innate, incredible ability to evolve and survive.”

“If you look at what’s happened in the past 20 years, we had the global financial crisis, the smoking ban, enormous discrepancy between [pub] prices and [supermarket] prices.”

He feels the Tory Government's mistakes during the pandemic have hindered growth in the hospitality industry.

“It meant that so many mistakes were made that have impacted so many people, whether it’s school children, whether it’s people struggling with their mental health, or the country being overburdened with debt as a result of the costs that have gone out.”

However, he also added, “[Labour’s] agenda, which, to be honest, still appears to be a work in progress, still seems to centre around more intervention, and more regulation. That is not what the country needs, to get back into serious growth.”

Emeny also told the publication Fuller’s pubs have not been as badly affected during the cost-of-living crisis because its pubs attract more affluent customers.  The pub chain runs around 400 sites across the UK, employing more than 5,000 people.

Despite soaring inflation, he said he is seeing premiumisation for Fuller’s pubs.

“Our customers are taking the view that if I’m coming out, I’m going to enjoy really good quality drinks. We’re seeing our most premium products in the fastest growth.”

 Fuller’s will not stock beers made by brewers who have weakened their strength recently to save on tax, said Emeny, adding  “A customer falls in love with a particular brand because of the flavour and how it’s brewed.

“And if you start tinkering with the brew, you do so at your own jeopardy and risk. I’m not a fan of this at all.”

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