The changing face of Britain's pubs

The great British pub has been part of our society for centuries.Thanks to creative entrepreneurs and experienced pub companies alike, the sector is evolving, with pubs increasingly appearing in new types of spaces.

While traditional pubs with low beams and inglenook fires will always appeal, operators are looking at new strategies to thrive in an increasingly competitive F&B sector, keep up with changing consumer trends and address the finite existing stock of properties suitable for pub use.  

This began 20 years ago with pubs occupying former banks, which provided characterful buildings in prime locations. Since then, the sector has further diversified and so have the properties themselves. Pub companies such as Marston’s are expanding rapidly by developing new build pubs near residential communities, leisure, retail and business parks and supermarkets. 

Importantly, there is often scope to develop letting bedrooms, providing another valuable income stream. Other operators have taken a creative approach to adding accommodation with shepherd huts and prefabricated buildings in pub grounds. 

New build also allows operators to combine their desired location and specification, often for lower than the equivalent conversion and disposal costs of acquiring an existing estate. They can be located in interesting areas where pubs don’t already exist, for example Hall & Woodhouse’s striking container-inspired, steel-and-glass pub and restaurant on the waterfront at Portishead Quays Marina. 

In cities and towns, large mixed commercial developments often have 'glass box' space allocated for F&B. Such properties normally offer free-of-tie leases with turnover rents, incentives, a shell to fit out as required and are located close to office workers, residents and retail space. Furthermore, the likes of Boxpark in Shoreditch and Pop Brixton have demonstrated the appeal of being part of a diverse F&B and entertainment hub and how consumer demands are shaping the leisure landscape. While historically operators wanted to be at ground level, pubs and bars are reaching new heights atop multi-storey car parks and as sky bars high up within office buildings.   

Ultimately, pubs are wonderfully diverse and there is one for every occasion and mood. As pubs change and adapt, their importance in the UK’s social life can only continue to grow.

This content first appeared in The Morning Advertiser.

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