Opinion

From future imperfect to future untenable

As supplier price rises continue to make their presence felt following their own input cost increases, it seems inevitable that the on-trade is going to have to follow suit and put up prices across the counter.

As VFI Chief Executive Paul Clancy tells us in this month’s 1&1 interview, “Pubs need profitability”.

While the government’s assistance in this matter is welcome, it only covers 40% of the licensed trade’s increase in energy costs. Finance must therefore be found to fund the other 60%.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness,” counselled Ole Mr Micawber in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, “Annual Income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.” He wasn’t wrong.

The only solution is a price increase at retail level. Another gentleman with an eye to balancing the books is publican Alan Clancy who watches costs on an hourly basis. But he also knows that, “We, as a nation, enjoy going out, it’s in our DNA,” as he told this year’s LVA Conference.

In this issue we cover that LVA Conference in full and speak to publicans about the problems they’re experiencing with the massive hike in energy costs.

But pubs will have to be innovative to survive a more demanding public and become more creative in their appeal while offering true value for money.

Some pubs in the UK have already made lemonade from the lemons they were dealt, opting to experiment with ‘blackout nights’ as a novel way of attracting in customers through offering something different – candlelit evenings for customers (insurance implications notwithstanding) to the tune of acoustic sessions onstage and hand-written receipts.

One thing’s for sure – we’re not nearing the end of these price rises so we’d be as well – both public and publicans – to start working on the other end of received price increases – costs.

As is revealed in our main story, some publicans started to take the necessary steps to reduce their energy demand quite some time ago. What have you been doing thus far – and what will you be doing over the bleak Midwinter?

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