Monday, January 02, 2012

Converting Pubs' Upstairs

The accommodation above pubs should always be kept with the business - for the reasons stated by Ian Loe. But pubs have to be run as stand alone businesses with the accommodation being one element of that business rather than as an added on discount to activities downstairs. It is hard for pubs to operate financially successfully as stand alone businesses now - there are many influences of the pub market that make it so - and without the economies of scale that larger, group businesses can apply it is difficult for individuals running single outlets to compete against the wider marketplace. However this does not mean that a group operation must be run as a monolothic, homogenised series of bland carbon copy roll outs of one pub repeated - with the same drink and food menus all over the country - which is the model that has overtaken the pub sector in the last forty years. NO; bland and boring and big is not an absolute requirement but a diversion from where pubs should have been going if the national pub estate had been well managed in recent decades which it manifestly has not. Economies of scale do need to be applied to pubs - in business terms as collections of 'units' - but this should be done with regard to the needs of the whole while understanding the needs of the individual and operating the estate with a mind to that - every single pub in a managed estate of many pubs needs the direct support, back office functions, buying power and administrative strength that only a highly experienced head office administration can bring to an operation but to be truly sustainable businesses each pub must be run as individual, locally relevant autonomous businesses that respond to their immediate market conditions, their customers and local economy - and this has to be done under the auspices of management who know their premises, their customers and local conditions; within the whole.

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