Express & Star

Revealed: The number of West Midlands pubs that closed in first three months of 2024

The West Midlands lost more pubs than nearly every other region during the first quarter of 2024, research has revealed.

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The number of pubs disappearing from communities in England and Wales jumped a third over the first months of 2024 amid pressure on punters’ budgets, according to new figures released today.

Official Government statistics have revealed that 239 pubs were demolished or converted for other uses over the three months to March 31.

It means around 80 pubs shut each month, representing a 56 per cent increase on the closure of 51 pubs a month over the first quarter of 2023.

Data, which was compiled by commercial real estate specialists at Altus Group, showed that the overall number of pubs in England and Wales, including those vacant and being offered to let, fell to 39,162 at the end of March. It compared with 39,401 pubs at the end of 2023.

The North West region of England lost 35 pubs, the most of any region, during the first quarter of 2024, but the West Midlands was second with a drop of 30.

According to data, there were 3,904 pubs in the region at the end of December 2023 and 3,874 at the end of March this year. On a year-to-year basis the figure was down 51 from 3,925.

On Friday, pub and brewery group bosses – including Nick Davis, founder of Hobsons Brewery in Shropshire and Paul Davies, chief executive, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company – called for the main political parties to immediately cut beer duty and demanded business rates reform ahead of the July 4 General Election.

The list also included Jonathan Holden, managing director of Holdens Brewery and Angus McMeeking, director of Black Country Ales as well as Keith Bott, from Stafford, who is managing director of Titanic Brewery and Timothy Batham, director of Batham’s in Brierley Hill.

The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats have all pledged to shake up business rates in order to reduce the burden on high street shops, pubs and restaurants.

Alex Probyn, president of property tax at Altus Group, said: “The fundamental issue for business is not necessarily the system but how much tax it actually generates.

“It is a tax that has risen 49 per cent during the last 14 years with business, across all sectors, now paying £9.48 billion a year more than in 2010.

“Whilst the pledges are welcome to drive down bills permanently for the high street, business had hoped for more detail and a timeframe in achieving this.”

Alex Probyn

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), said: “The pub closure figures for the first quarter of this year are a reflection of the continuing high costs of doing business, especially with factors like high energy costs and food and drink inflation remaining higher than the topline inflation rate.

“Trading conditions have also not been helped with the varied weather than we have experienced, and in addition, with £1 out of every £3 being spent in pubs going directly to the taxman, the tax burden with which the beer and pub sector must grapple is another cost component which squeezes margin.

“Last week saw the publication of the various party manifestos with the parties making different pledges to reform business rates, which combine with previous promises to recognise the importance of the sector for communities and the wider economy.

“It is for this reason why it will be essential that the next Government puts in place a fiscal and regulatory framework that makes sure that the sector does not survive, but thrives.”