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11-06-2011, 14:14
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Something that is very noticeable on the local pub scene is that pubs owned by pub companies seem much more vulnerable to closure than those owned by independent breweries. Yes, the brewers have closed some pubs, but in general only when they have clearly become unviable or when they have been made an offer they can’t refuse. But the vast majority of pubs that have closed belong to the pub companies – amongst recent high-profile closures look at the George in Stockport town centre, the Ash in Heaton Norris and the Greyhound in Adswood.

Pub companies are well-known for their hard-nosed business practices and their objective is to get the best return out of their properties, or, if they can’t make sufficient profit, to see if they can sell them off for redevelopment. Breweries, on the other hand, while clearly they can’t sustain unprofitable pubs in the long term, have an interest in maximising the sales of their own beers, and so it makes sense for them to take a broader view.

A further factor is that pub company outlets often seem to be run in an inconsistent manner with frequent changes of format and emphasis, not least in often putting cask beer in and taking it out again, which can’t do their standing with customers any favours. With a Holts or Robinson’s pub, you know what you’re getting, and it doesn’t tend to change dramatically. Pub companies alsoseem to be much keener to board pubs up rather than installing temporary licensees, something that will just drive customers away that they may not be able to attract back.

An exception to this is Hydes, who don’t seem to have the local following that buoys up Holts, Lees and Robinson’s, and who have made a number of bad calls in recent years with pub acquisitions and refurbishments (see the previous post about Corbans). To be honest, given recent closures and sell-offs, I get the impression that Hydes have somewhat lost the plot, and it would not surprise me to see them sell up in the next couple of years.

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