Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

UK pub numbers on the rise again

Published:  11 December, 2019

The number of British pubs has increased for the first time in a decade, analysis from hospitality sector software start-up Stampede has revealed.

According to data from the Office of National Statistics, there were 39,135 pubs on 31 March 2019, up from 38,815 the same time in 2018.

The UK lost 5,855 pubs overall between 2010 and 2018 – equating to an average of 732 each year.

Almost all of the growth has been in England, which saw the number of pubs rise by 345. Wales lost a net 25 pubs and Scotland five. Northern Ireland was the only other part of the UK to see a net gain, with an additional five pubs.

The growth in pub numbers was strongest in the North East of England, which was up by 85, with numbers up by 80 in the West Midlands.

While the South East has the most pubs, it only added 10 pubs over the year, bringing its total to 5,340.

Among Engand’s towns and cities, Bristol, Newcastle, Southampton and Southend each added an 15 pubs in 2019.

“The pub trade has had very little to celebrate in the last decade, but I’m sure they’ll raise a glass to these new numbers,” said Patrick Clover, founder and chief executive of Stampede.

“Pubs have a hugely important place in our society both socially as well as economically, being one of the UK’s biggest employers. The reduction of pubs over the last decade has been heart-breaking, following devastating changes to business taxes and alcohol duties, but I hope these figures signpost a reversal of fortunes.”

Nationwide, pub growth is being fuelled by the large pub groups, with 125 of the 320 new pubs being among businesses that turnover between £1m and £2m a year. A further 205 were among those in the £500k-to-£1m bracket.

As Harpers reported yesterday, Wetherspoon is to invest more than £200m in its pubs estate over the next four years, creating some 10,000 new jobs.

Development will be focused on small- and medium-sized towns, with new venues planned in Bourne, Waterford, Hamilton, Ely, Diss, Felixstowe, Newport Pagnell and Prestatyn.

The analysis from Stampede also revealed that the UK lost a net 55 pubs whose turnover was under £100k.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Nik Antona, chairman of real ale enthusiasts’ group Camra, said: “We welcome this data that shows a slight increase in the number of open pubs nationally.

“Unfortunately pubs continue to close, particularly in small or rural communities. This means the loss of the social, cultural and economic benefits that come with a well run local.

“To ensure pubs survive and thrive, they need a fair tax system and stability going forward.”