Saturday 29 March 2014

Pound pubby

It was reported this week that, after having successfully trialled the concept, a company was planning to roll out its Pound Pub concept across the North of England. Basically these are no-frills, wet-led pubs where a half of standard bitter or lager goes for a quid, and a pint for a mere £1.50. The stated aim is to attract daytime drinkers who might in the past have frequented working men’s clubs. Sky TV is conspicuous by its absence.

Not surprisingly, the anti-drink lobby were up in arms, claiming that it was irresponsible marketing targeting the most vulnerable in society. Funny that, when a pint at £1.50 is about 70p a unit, well above their proposed minimum alcohol price. This gives further credence to the intention – set out in the Sheffield University research that is used to support minimum pricing – of having differential minimum prices for the on- and off-trades. And I don’t see them picketing Wetherspoon’s and Sam Smith’s pubs.

Obviously those two operators do good business from offering prices conspicuously lower than most of the competition, but their establishments also tend to have a reasonable level of creature comforts and, particularly with Sam’s, a kind of camaraderie that produces a distinctive pubby buzz. A pub where cheapness is the only attraction is unlikely to attract many punters and also risks being a magnet for the kind of people whose company you might prefer to avoid. So time will tell whether this proves to be a successful business concept.

If it does take off, as with the widely-reported rise of micropubs, it might indicate that there is a latent and unsatisfied demand for old-fashioned drink-and-chat pubs that don’t succumb to the multiple temptations of loud music, screaming kids, TV football and wall-to-wall dining.

Of course, there is one rather obvious way in which the trade of small, no-frills, wet-led pubs could be dramatically revived. What a pity the government continues to turn a deaf ear.

Incidentally, I love the description of micropubs in Zythophile’s blogpost that I linked to as “five grumpy old men in a 10ft square space”.


  1. What's tempting about loud music, screaming kids, TV football and wall-to-wall dining? Or is this what Pub-Co reps tell their hapless tenants they should have in order to increase sales?

  2. Apparently it is, given that so many pubs are like that nowadays.

  3. I refuse to believe that worthy
    upstanding beer loving Englishmen
    still frequent Chapels of Rest run
    by joints which seem to have a far from healthy interest in kiddies changing rooms and geriatrics throwing up unchewed burgers,not to mention the huggies disposal bin near the condiments table.

    Still waiting for proper pubs

  4. Seriously though, how many people don't like sport, food and music?

  5. Me, when I've just gone out for a quiet drink and a read of the Feudal Times and Reactionary Herald.

  6. Lord Egbert Nobacon30 March 2014 at 08:42

    BBC Radio Four as entertainment - now that's a pub I could happily spend my time in perusing a copy of the Telegraph and trading badinage with fellow UKIP members.
    My idea of heaven.

  7. The Arden Arms in Stockport had a long-serving landlord (I think called Jack) under whose stewardship it was described as playing "The Light Programme" at subdued volume. Not sure the modern-day Radio 2 would qualify, though.

  8. It sounds like the kind of dirt cheap dog rough boozer that's right up my street.

  9. Remains to be seen whether the prices of Bacardi Breezers and suchlike are similarly low. If so, it might attract a few chubby orange birds...

  10. @Cooking Lager,it sounds like a dirt cheap dog rough boozer thats right up my street.

    In the last two weeks i have been in two pubs that were selling halfs of bitter at 95p and £1.00 with lots more visited not much more than that,yes they might not be up to some people standards but they were up to mine.
    The pubs were in Rotherham and Chesterfield,not Sams or Spoons.

  11. Which one of Dante's layers of hell contains Rotherham?

    Tim Martin may have a few deadleg boozers but he has managed to detract criticism by running what are by and large orderly houses. You are as likely to see an old couple eating the cheap afternoon fish and chips than the elderly alkies. He attracts a wide set of people.

    This does have the appearance of deadleg establishment about it and you can see why local residents might take issue with a place with the sole purpose of allowing the workshy to piss away their benefits before causing a problem in the streets.

    The puritans do like to moan about booze being the destruction of the poor and all that.

    Wonder if it will reach the heights of this gaff.

  12. Martin, Cambridge2 April 2014 at 21:22

    What happened to the Last Order chain - remember a grim but cheap one in Atherton which is where Pound pub is headed. Only selling point for them seemed to be cheap lager.

  13. Review posted on the Wetherspoon YahooGroup:

    "Had to go through Atherton on Saturday, so I popped into the Pound Pub to see what it was like – and the place is AWFUL !

    "The economies they have made to keep the prices down obviously include not spending any money at all on refurbishment – the place nicks a lick of paint, some polish and new furniture at the very least. Another economy appears to not bother signposting the toilets – the gents turned out to be through three doors, all of which were completely unmarked !

    "As for the beers, well since funding doesn’t seem to stretch to pump clips, you have to guess what is available from the shape of the dispenser !! There were 4 handpumps, three of which were out of use, and which had a crudely hand-written note “Wells & Young 4.3%, £2.20 per pint”. Theakstons was advertised (outside the pub), but that turned out to be keg mild.

    "To get away quickly I asked for a half of Fosters – but was served a pint !

    "One thing the budget does stretch to is satellite TV which was showing the absolutely crucial match of Spurs v West Ham. The place was reasonably full, but hardly anyone was watching.

    "I still think the name is great, and the concept is good, but they will have to do a lot better than this if they want to make a success of it!"

    Sounds utterly shite - I'll stick to Sam Smith's thank you very much. And doesn't even have the saving grace of no Sky TV.


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