Want to know why pubs are closing?

Posted on September 12, 2016 by UNITED PHOTO PRESS MAGAZINE


An extraordinary note by a veteran analyst has delivered a broadside at Britain’s beleaguered pub industry – and given an unintentional and amusing insight into how he spent his holiday.

Mark Brumby of Langton Capital regularly delivers pithy notes that eschew the often dull language favoured by many City scribblers.

But his latest observations on the pub trade take this to a new level – and help explain why 27 pubs are calling last orders for the final time each week, according to real ale campaigners Camra.

In a note titled “UK pubs – a great institution but…” Mr Brumby offers his “few humble dos and don’ts” for the licensed trade that hint at an August break smattered with disappointments.

His “Langton in the Lakes, on the ground findings… based on experiences over the last 10 days” advises publicans not to “stop serving food at 2pm if you say you’ll serve until three”, hinting at him going hungry on holiday.

Mark Brumby's time in the Lake District was laced with disappointments in pubs.


Food was also on Mr Brumby’s mind when he warned against having “workmen drilling skirting boards (and creating clouds of dust) over lunchtime”.

There was no escape for the hapless analyst outside either, where publicans seemed to be waging a campaign to stop him enjoying himself al fresco.

"Don’t," he said, “leave your two Belgian Shepherds guarding the beer garden (and keeping it empty)”, or “let the grass grow to thigh-height whilst advertising ‘beer garden to rear’”. Neither should they “burn trash (cardboard & worse) in beer garden incinerators on August lunchtimes”.

Mr Brumby also warned publicans to remember they’re selling “drinks that can be had at a fraction of the price in the off-trade, that punters need a reason to visit, and, even in tourist destinations, it’d be nice to see customers more than once”.

Perhaps the starkest warning came in his observation that operators “have limited control over weather, football, smoking bans, supermarket prices, etc, but they can determine their own behaviour – and if you can’t fill your beer gardens now, when will they?”

Rounding up the findings of his time in the Lake District, the analyst promised that “Langton loves pubs, really, it does, but – and it’s a big but – they need to work for their money”.

Mark Brumby says publicans are 'the salt of the earth' but their own worst enemy sometimes 

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Brumby said the note was the result of many years of poor experiences in pubs, and admitted that a lot of his holiday visits to hostelries were "frankly, not very good. Publicans are the salt of the earth but as a breed to tend to blame everyone but themselves for their problems".

Mr Brumby – perhaps wisely – does not single out any specific pubs he visited to inform his thinking but the British Beer and Pub Association said his comments are worth noting for all in the drinks trade.

“Millions of Britons have spent time in our pubs this summer and thankfully the vast majority will have had an enjoyable experience,” said a spokesman for the trade body. “Mark Brumby offers sage advice that all publicans would be wise to heed.”