A third of our pubs close in 10 years

Stockport Express - - Front Page - EMMA CURRY [email protected]­plc.com @em­malouise­curry

MORE than a third of pubs in Stock­port have closed in the last decade.

There are now about 155 pubs and bars in Stock­port, 85 fewer than in 2008, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Of­fice of Na­tional Sta­tis­tics (ONS) Eco­nom­ics of Ale Re­port.

The sit­u­a­tion has been re­flected across the north west, where 26 per cent of pubs and bars have closed in the last 10 years, leav­ing 4,460 in the re­gion.

John Clarke, chair­man of the Stock­port and South Manch­ester branch of the Cam­paign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said ‘the com­bined ef­fects of the fi­nan­cial crash and the smok­ing ban had a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on pub trade.’

“Add in life­style changes, a wider range of non pub-fo­cused so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, in­creas­ing prices, squeezed in­comes and, in some cases, un­re­al­is­ti­cally high pub rents, and the num­ber of clo­sures is not re­ally a sur­prise,” he added.

“Old in­dus­trial towns like Stock­port also have another is­sue – many pubs were built in the ar­eas where peo­ple lived and worked but no longer do so – Hill­gate is a prime ex­am­ple.”

How­ever John said that, in his opin­ion, the de­cline in Stock­port had ‘bot­tomed out’ and pub num­bers were ac­tu­ally on the up.

He added: “Re­cent losses have more than been bal­anced out by new or re­open­ings, for ex­am­ple the Welling­ton Free House, the Peters­gate Tap, Heaton Hops, Pro­ject 53 and, very re­cently, the An­gel Inn in the Mar­ket Place (re­opened af­ter 67 years clo­sure) – and there are oth­ers.

So, while over the pe­riod since 2008 there has been a marked de­cline in num­bers, as far as Stock­port goes that has been halted and ar­guably re­versed.”

The ONS fig­ures show that, de­spite the de­cline in pub num­bers, the turnover of the in­dus­try has re­mained strong. While the num­ber of es­tab­lish­ments has de­clined, there are more em­ploy­ees work­ing in pubs than there were 10 years ago. In Stock­port, the av­er­age pub em­ploys eight staff in 2018, up from five in 2008. The re­port sug­gests this may be be­cause sur­viv­ing pubs have moved on to also of­fer­ing food or ac­com­mo­da­tion.

John agreed, say­ing: “This re­flects the fact that more pubs are fo­cus­ing on food, which ob­vi­ously re­quires more staff, and per­haps also bet­ter staffed bars with an em­pha­sis on cus­tomer ser­vice.”

De­spite this, there has been a drop of 13pc in the to­tal Stock­port pub work­force, to 1,750 this year.

●John Clarke

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