Britain’s licensed premises drop below 100,000

30 October, 2023

New figures from hospitality trade body UKHospitality, in partnership with CGA by NIQ, have revealed that Britain’s number of licensed premises has fallen by nearly a third (31%) in the last two decades.

The figures highlight the changes in hospitality and the sustained periods of pressure the industry has been under, recently heightened by inflation, rising energy bills and workforce challenges. 

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Given the shocking number of hospitality business closures exposed by these new figures, the last thing the sector needs is the potential £1 billion bill as a result of the business rates hike due in April. 

“Our industry has proved time and time again that, with the right conditions, it can drive national economic growth, invest in local communities and create jobs at all levels,” Nicholls added.

UKHospitality is calling for urgent Government support in the Autumn Statement, in the form of extending business rates relief and freezing the current multiplier.

The insights show that at the end of September 2023, the total number of licensed premises in Britain stood at 99,916, a drop of 30.6% from the 144,055 recorded by CGA in 2003, and the first time it has entered five figures.

The largest losses have been drink-led pubs, bars and nightclubs, which have seen a net decline of 43.6% over the period. The last 20 years have also seen an uplift in managed sites, which have performed better than their independent counterparts, up 14.6% versus a decline of 32.9%. 

“We also continue to ask the Chancellor to consider more medium to long-term measures to support the industry, such as reviewing the rate of VAT for hospitality and reforming the apprenticeship levy to give businesses more control and flexibility over funding,” Nicholls added.

Karl Chessell, CGA by NIQ’s business unit director, said: “While the closures have negatively impacted communities and livelihoods, some trends have been positive, like the dramatic increase in the quantity and quality of restaurants and the success stories of multi-site operators. 

“Demand for eating and drinking out is still strong and hospitality has a key role in connecting all our communities. The right government support is needed to ensure businesses can survive and help drive our economic recovery,” Chessell continued. 

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