Pub closures: how Britain’s publicans are fighting back

The Week - Feb 07, 08:53 GMT

Patrick Frawley, founder and owner of the East London Pub Co

Patrick Frawley, founder and owner of the East London Pub Co., on the future of the great British pub


Patrick Frawley

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 8:53am

According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 11,000 pubs have shut over the past decade. However, it is my view that during turbulent times, it is important to reflect on why pubs are closing and look to how we as an industry can buck this trend. 

How pubs can succeed in a difficult climate

I believe there are three essential elements in running a successful pub. The first is recruiting and training the right people to create a functioning team which will have an impact on the service and experience.

Second, the atmosphere needs to be on point. Everything from the lighting, heat and music need to come together to create the best environment.

Finally, the offering itself, which includes the drinks, food and service, has to meet and exceed customer expectations.

Implementing traditional operational methods from 20 years ago just doesn’t work any more. Consumers are more discerning than in the past, and the leisure space is increasingly competitive. Pubs have to make sure they are always innovating and have an offering that is relevant to their target consumer. With each venue I open, I consider the customer first before doing anything else, to ensure that what we do provide as a total venue resonates with our customer base.

Community first

Respecting your location is essential. At East London Pub Co. we have chosen corner sites which are at the heart of communities, and that are accessible on foot and via public transport to ensure strong footfall to each location. Our focus has been to preserve and create community watering holes that are relevant to modern customer needs.

Closing time?

I am not deterred by industry shifts and the closure of so many pubs around the country. Rather I enjoy running the business in the current climate, and I believe the future of the London pub scene is incredibly exciting.

We know there is potential for growth, and for anyone with a strong understanding of their consumers, a tailored offering to match and an excellent team the future will be looking positive.

Rather than closing pubs, were looking to open new locations. In five years we would like to have between 12 to 15 venues in London. Right now, the focus is on completing the regeneration project on The Lock Tavern and launching our newest venue, The Gun in Spitalfields – and bringing new pubs to London at a time when people are concerned pubs are on the wane.

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