Brexit vote hasn't affected sales but 21 pubs a week are still shutting

 
Francesca Washtell
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The Harp In Covent Garden Is Named CAMRA Pub of the Year 2011
Pubs are struggling to compete with hefty beer prices (Source: Getty)

The Brexit vote has not yet affected turnover at the country's watering holes, but hefty beer prices are still driving pubs to close at the "alarming" rate of 21 per week.

Enterprise Inns, the UK's largest pub company, said sales rose 1.9 per cent in the 44 weeks to 30 July and the group remains on track to deliver all aspects of its strategic plan in a trading update today.

"We are pleased to have maintained our trading momentum through the second half of the year to date," chief executive Simon Townsend said.

"The consequences of Brexit may be far-reaching but to date we have seen no discernible impact on consumer spending and no consequential impact on our trading performance."

Read more: How to do things differently in the pub industry

According to figures released by Barclaycard, spending in pubs, restaurants and cinemas was up by 10.7 per cent in July, despite consumer spending growth slipping.

However, in other figures released today by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), high beer prices are still forcing pubs to close at a rate of 21 per week.

This was down from a rate of 27 per week last year, but the organisation still called the closure rate "alarming".

In a poll of 2,000 adults, respondents said beer taxes and rents were too high.

Read more: Casual dining and pub grub drive new restaurant and bar openings

More than four in five said the cheaper price of alcohol available in supermarkets was having an impact on the pub closure rate.

"We've long campaigned for a fairer deal for publicans from the property companies which own their pubs and have seen recent success in the introduction of the Pubs Code and the appointment of a Pubs Code Adjudicator," Camra chairman Colin Valentine said.

"People clearly agree with us that the level of tax charged on beer and on pubs is too high and needs to be addressed.

"Camra and the beer industry has seen some success in persuading the government to abolish the beer duty escalator and cut tax over the last few years, but ministers need to go further in supporting the industry."

Read more: Government faces calls from Labour to replace newly-appointed Pubs Code Adjudicator

Last month, the long-awaited Pubs Code came into effect after a nearly two-month delay.

Under the code, tied pub tenants of the six largest pub-owning companies, including Enterprise, now have the legal right to the Market Rent Only option and do not have to comply with the beer tie, a 400-year-old system that requires tied tenants to buy beer and other agreed supplies directly from their landlords rather than on the open market.

Many hope the shift to the Market Rent Only option will lower beer prices and give pubs a profit boost.

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