Colliers International Hotels Director Peter, who has sold dozens of hotels and pubs across the region in the past twenty years, was commenting on the Good Pub Guide 2014 prediction that up to 4,000 licensed premises were at risk of closing over the next 12 months.
Peter said: “The Good Pub Guide’s dire forecasts have certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest in the trade but it is fairly obvious that poorly performing pubs stuck in the 80s will go to the wall.
“However, we are experiencing very strong demand at the moment and I believe there are plenty of buyers out there ready to have a crack at the right pub in the right location.”
Peter said although not completely immune to the nationwide downturn the pub sector in the South West region had managed to escape the worst.
He went on: “Good pubs in the South West’s tourist areas have seen a jump in trade on the back of the better weather we have enjoyed this summer.
“There has also been a significant spring back after the deadening effect of the Olympics combined with a marked improvement in the wider economy.
“There are definitely buyers out there for the right sort of pub although it’s fair to say the country and town centre locations remain the most sought after.”
He said typical country pubs in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and mid and west Wales were continuing to attract would-be owners.
“The Good Pub Guide argues that failing pubs need visionary and energetic licensees and the South West is fortunate to have plenty.
“We have seen many examples of tired old pubs being given a new lease of life though refurbishment, a new menu and imaginative diversification. Indeed, some of our buyers have turned the process of revamping failing pubs into a very lucrative fine art.”
He concluded: “Pubs need to free themselves from the flock wallpaper and chicken in a basket image of the 70s and 80s and ensure they appeal to today’s typically demanding customer.
“A good website is essential to bring the customers in. Smart, tidy and contemporary facilities are a must and a traditional real fire welcome from landlord and staff helps ensure customers will be back for more.”
Peter said although he had never run a pub himself more than 20 years of valuing and selling them had given him something of an insight into what makes a successful business.
Peter’s top ten tips for a great pub are:
- The Website: Before they go many prospective customers visit the web site – does it sell the business and make you want to go?
- First Impressions: Smart external appearance. Peeling paint, weeds in the car park and dead flowers in the beds and baskets are a no no.
- The Welcome: Good pubs always seem to have a host who greets with a smile and makes the customer feel wanted.
- A Fire: Even in summer a fire crackling in the hearth makes you want to linger.
- The Settle: Good pubs provide an environment that makes you feel at ease.
- The Drink: Local beer kept and served well by an enthusiast.
- The Food: Well-cooked and appropriately priced. A reasonable length of wait is reassuring (no ping cuisine!) too long is, well, too long….
- The Noise: Crackle of fire and hum of chat. (Not buzzing and ringing from AWP machines and few places get away with piped music.)
- The Owner/Staff: A follow on from 2. If the host sets the right tone and gets the staff to really deliver customer service all will be well.
- The Ah!: The feeling good pubs give you as you leave. You know what I mean I am sure!!