Vintners Association warns of bleak times ahead for pub trade

According to the latest information from the Irish Vintner’s Association, 2012 was one of the “worst years on record” for the industry.

According to the latest information from the Irish Vintner’s Association, 2012 was one of the “worst years on record” for the industry.

Local representative Ronnie Nally warned that, the future for the rural Irish pub was now “very bleak”, and insisted that drinks manufactures needed to do more to support publicans in these straightened times.

Locally, a similar tune rings true with a number of pubs already gone by the wayside since this time last year, and nationally it is estimated that thousands of jobs have been lost over the past 12 months, within the sector.

It’s an industry that has seen a steady decline in business since the smoking ban was first introduced nine years ago. Then new drink driving legislation was implemented and that was closely followed by random breath testing. Then cheaper alcohol availability in supermarkets over the past two or three years served as the straw to break the camel’s back, so to speak - as the pub trade, as we know it, began to reel in many parts of the country.

“The year just gone saw our government put further pressure on an industry already on its knees with a massive increase in excise, “ Mr Nally explained, adding that major suppliers subsequently increased prices in an untimely and unwelcome manner. “With all the cuts in salaries and an increase in unemployment, people simply haven’t got the money to be spending in a pub.”

With over 54,000 jobs now at stake, nationally, within the sector, many jobs are locally based. The Vintners Association estimates that trade has dropped by 34 percent in the last five years and this will be further challenged by the constraints of Budget 2012.

“There is no comparison between the cost of buying alcohol in the supermarket now and then getting it in the pub - the reality is that the pub can’t compete with that,” said Mr Nally. “Supermarkets are not selling alcohol at a loss and are selling at a lower percentage profit than pubs are; they do not have the same fixed charges as pubs would have such as, Sky TV, etc. The next 10 years will put an end to pubs if something isn’t done now – the whole culture is changing and public transport in rural Ireland is not adequate; so people prefer to drink at home now, that’s the reality.”

Nationally, nearly 800 pubs are in serious financial trouble this week, placing nearly 5,000 jobs at risk. “It will take Diageo and Heinken to reduce their prices if the pub trade is to survive,” Mr Nally concluded