Gloucester pub trade facing customer crisis
PUB landlords need fresh ideas on how to attract drinkers if they are to survive, says the chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale in Gloucester.
The flagging pub trade needs reinvigoration as more people consider alternative entertainment or stock up on cheap supermarket booze.
The Northend Vaults, owned by Enterprise Inns, and The Pig Inn the City in Westgate Street remain closed, a sign of a downturn in fortunes for landlords.
Alan Stephens is chairman of the Gloucester branch of CAMRA.
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"Drinking habits have changed, largely down to cheap supermarket deals," he said. "But landlords need to be more visionary in their approach if they are to attract more drinkers in. Back in the 1960s and 70s, The New Inn used to be the social centre of Gloucester. It is very different now.
"So many pubs are in historic buildings – it would be a tragedy if more were to close."
Mr Stephens says despite the gloomy outlook, pubs near residential areas, such as the Greyhound in Longlevens, are thriving, as people don't have to drive there.
Gary Teague, manager of Teague's Bar in Kingsholm Road says without match day trade from the rugby club, he would already be out of business.
"The turning point came in 2007 when the 24-hour opening hours kicked in," he said.
"That was the first nail in the coffin for the pub trade and it has got gradually worse since.
"If my regulars knew we were staying open until 11, with music and entertainment, they would stop here for the night. With other clubs offering late-night drinking, that doesn't happen so much now and we have to try and compete.
"People's drinking habits have changed dramatically in the last few years and the smoking ban has put some people off.
"It is a very difficult industry to operate in at the moment. The issues of cheap supermarket alcohol has never really been addressed, that has had a big effect.
"My lease is up next year and I'm not sure if I'm going to renew it."
The Registry is one late-night bar to benefit from recent investment.
Its general manager, Neil Joyner, says pubs shouldn't view late-night bars and clubs as direct competition and work together to help revive the evening economy in the city.
"Improving the quality of nightclubs and late-night bars will help complement the traditional pub market in Gloucester," he said.
"The improvements we've made at The Registry will encourage more people out at night to help the traditional pub trade.
"We are all part of the same industry."
Mr Joyner has added to calls from club bosses at Liquid to reduce binge drinking in the city by banning cheap drink promotions.