Smoking ban 'is hitting pub trade'

PUBS in the region are facing challenging conditions to stay profitable, one year on from the smoking ban, industry leaders have said.

Mark Lord

PUBS in the region are facing challenging conditions to stay profitable, one year on from the smoking ban, industry leaders have said.

But while the ban, introduced on July 1, has had a “negative” impact on trade, publicans are also dealing with a “mountain” of other problems - including the rising costs of fuel and raw materials and the economic slowdown.

The credit crunch has been the main driving force behind the slump in pub trade, with recent hikes in alcohol duty and rising costs for raw materials adding to the pain for licensees and brewers.


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The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) estimated beer sales have fallen by as much as 7% during the year, helping to accelerate the rate of pub closures to four a day. It said there are currently 57,500 pubs across the country, which is 1,200 less than a year ago.

BBPA communications director Mark Hastings said: “The smoking ban has had a negative impact, (but) if it had just been that we could have probably got on with it.

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“But it has been far and away eclipsed by a mountain of other problems that are facing pubs at the moment. Consumers are going out less and spending a lot less.”

He said smaller pubs that had not been able to diversify quickly enough had been closed.

“Some pubs are doing very well, if they had the room to develop a food business, but by no means everyone did,” added Mr Hastings.

Jonathan Adnams, chairman of Southwold-based brewer Adnams, said: “The UK pub industry is having a tough time for all sorts of reasons at the moment.

“With regards to the smoking ban, most pubs have put in quite a lot of effort to negate the effects.

“There has been a downturn in trade, for various reasons - the smoking ban, rising costs of raw materials and, as we live in a rural area, fuel prices have a big impact on customers.”

He added: “Things are not looking great in the brewing industry. I think we are looking at difficult times for the next 18 months as everyone is feeling the affects of the economic downturn.

“Customers are not going out as much and there confidence has been knocked.

“Having said that, I do think that pubs have a great future as long as people feel they are getting good value, we need to encourage more people to get back down the pub.”

Mike Davey, chairman of the North East Suffolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said: “When the ban first came in lots of pubs used it as an excuse for poor trade.

“Those pubs which were successful have continued to be so and those pubs which were poor are now struggling. Hopefully people are learning to live with it as it is definitely here to stay.”

He added: “I have not heard anyone complaining about it recently, it now seems that pubs have other reasons for poor trade.”

Tony Jerome, national spokesman for Camra, added: “Pubs are closing nationally at a rate of 57 per month, with a further 1,600 expected to be facing an uncertain future by the end of the year.”

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