Doom and Gloom for Birmingham’s Licensed Trade? No!
Our Director of Regulatory Services – Peter Adkins looks at the health of the Licensed Sector in Birmingham
In the Birmingham press today there is news of the longstanding cocktail bar and restaurant Chameleon closing suddenly. See here for more information.
Shortly before this, the Morning Advertiser reported over the weekend that following April’s business rates change, 616 pubs have closed. This equates to over 2 a day, or 14 a week. There are more details on the MA web feed.
The MA article lays at least part of the blame for the reducing numbers at the door of the rates system. There is no indication if this is any part of the reason behind the Chameleon closure.
The reduction in pub numbers is a figure well down from the depths of the recession where there were regularly reports of 50 pubs a week closing. The MA article says pub numbers fell from 54,674 in April 2010 to 43,066 in April 2017. In the light of this level of fall of over 21%, 2 per day looks better, but it is still a figure which would seem too high for comfort.
The closures from 2010 were blamed on many factors not just the recession. Pubs also had the effect of the smoking ban to deal with. Add to this was a general change in customer demand following the Licensing Act, which took consumers away from the old wet led pub to more family friendly pubs with food offerings.
But is this reflected in the Birmingham market place? Well you wouldn’t think so if you walk around the city. There seems to be a never ending stream of people wanting to open up new licensed premises. Many are restaurants but new bars are also opening.
The Birmingham Mail reported last week on 11 new bars and restaurants opening. Amongst others we will shortly be welcoming The Ivy, a new Fiesta Del Asado, Revolucion de Cuba and Dirty Martini. NRI by acclaimed Indian chef Atul Kocchar is reported to be opening in the Mailbox in Easter 2018. Birmingham City Centre is seemingly becoming one of ‘the places to go’ for food.
Add to this a new restaurant for the Sabai Sabai group on Waterloo Street and the restaurant / bar market is looking buoyant too. The new owners of the bars and eateries along Summer Row including Fleet Street Kitchen and the Texan Roadhouse are investing and things are definitely looking up for this previously troubled group of venues.
It’s not just in those sectors. The multi awarding winning Loki Wines is opening in Greenfield Crescent Edgbaston and The Birmingham Whisky Club have opened a specialist whisky bar in the Jewellery Quarter recently.
So is it as bad as some of the headlines would lead you to believe? It seems not. Early New Year is always a tricky time for venues with the post Christmas tightening in consumer discretionary spend, cold nights and poor weather adding to their woes, but the future is looking bright and there is clearly a high level of confidence within the trade that Birmingham is a place they want to be.
If you’re interested in opening new premises or having problems with existing ones, Peter Adkins would be happy to discuss matters with you