Sunday, 24 October 2010

Losing your Spoons

The other day, I received an e-mail from Fleurets, the licensed trade estate agents, about the Red Lyon in Whitchurch, Shropshire, a former Wetherspoon’s pub that is now closed and up for sale. It could be yours for £300,000, freehold and contents.

I’ve recently praised Wetherspoons’ skills in site identification and property management. But it’s clear they don’t always get it right. This web page listing all of Wetherspoon’s outlets, also lists 99 former ones that have closed. In some cases, they may have moved to bigger and better premises nearby, but in others they must have misjudged the local market, as they spectacularly did with the Edwin Chadwick in Longsight, Manchester.

There are Spoons in some fairly small market towns, of similar size to Whitchurch, such as Ross-on-Wye and Haverfordwest. I don’t know the Red Lyon, so can’t really comment on why it closed, but it would be interesting to look into the reasons that lead to Spoons succeeding in some small towns, and failing in others. This news report links it to a general decline of pubs in the town. There is a Cheshire example in the Lodestar in Neston on the Wirral. Maybe a key factor is the extent to which a town is a magnet for people from the surrounding area.

10 comments:

  1. I suppose they're bound to get it wrong some time, although I'd have thought their prices would be a draw in most places. The overall direction of their company is expansion, even in the present climate, and that shows up the inefficiencies and venality of most pub companies.

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  2. Most of the regulars at my local
    Spoons are either burger nibbling
    alzheimer cases or the benefit
    brigade spending child allowance.
    The few evening punters are the
    penny pinchers and local lost causes.The highlight on mondays
    (cheap night)is a pervo doing a Guardian crossword and the staff
    ringing last orders an hour early,(because they've had a long day)

    Ex Spooner

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  3. I occasionally drive past the ex-Spoons in Fenham, Newcastle, the Plaza Tavern. It is still empty.

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  4. So why did that one close? Bad choice of area?

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  5. Anon: you're quite a precious little snob when it comes down to it, aren't you? I couldn't regard people with the contempt that you do, safely hidden by your anonymous label. So, a coward too.

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  6. Maybe I should sell tickets for the Anon vs RedNev fight ;-)

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  7. It's an interesting topic. Spoons are hugely successful, but as you point out, even they get it wrong. They certainly did in Longsight.

    But could several of the other closures simply be down to the pubs having peaked and had their time? We really need more info on the examples cited.

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  8. I believe that many of the early, and much smaller, JDW outlets have either been sold off, or closed down. I am referring in particular to their original north London pubs, many of which went umder the name JJ Moons.

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  9. I use a few Spoons and I have to say that, as a lover of real ale, I've found the quality of the beer to be generally very good. Mr Spoon himself (Tim Martin?) wrote what I thought was a very good editorial in the Spoon's mag recently, criticising this and past government for policies on real ale, small brewers, licensing, tax, et al, all of which were driving pub closures. Fair play to him, I say - he's a good advocate for real ale and the social value of the pub.

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  10. The wiki entry for spoons has a basic history

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J_D_Wetherspoon

    "none of the earliest outlets in the chain are still part of the estate"

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