Friday, 29 November 2013


I am sure all of you have come across the odd sweeping statement or two in your time. It's often a cringe worthy   experience. The surprising comment, that through its obvious absurdity, usually has you rolling in the aisles with laughter.

Well, I have just read what I would assess as a quite ludicrous, and perhaps foolish statement, made by the Marstons Pub Company - and hopefully you will concur with my view on this cockeyed comment.

The comment made by the brewer, was that food, not beer, has become the main reason people visit pubs.

A sweeping statement? How many of you have picked yourself up off the deck?

There is no way, in my opinion, when visiting the boozer, there are more punters troughing than quaffing - there never 
has been.

OK, most of my visits are in an urban environment, and I will say many of those pubs do a damn good trade on food orders. However, if there are a dozen eating, there will be twenty or thirty supping.

Of course, there has been a slant to more food based establishments. I reviewed a Stonegate pub recently, and they were doing well with food orders. But the drinkers outnumbered the eaters four or five to one.

The only hostelries that give any modicum of credibility to the Marstons statement, are the gastro, pub-restaurant type destinations. The country boozers for example, in idyllic surroundings. Fair enough, eaters will outnumber drinkers, in many instances here - and that is a good call.

But this type of hostelry is well outnumbered by the ordinary type of boozer that Marstons are referring too. 

Food is simply not the main reason for going to the pub - it's a load of old scallops!

I also thought it was worth mentioning that Marstons have just flogged 202 of their pubs - a result of a strategy to concentrate on "higher turnover pub-restaurants", rather than smaller drinks-only boozers.

So, does it really come as a surprise to you all, that they have made this ludicrous statement about food in preference to booze? 

  One thinks I may already know your answer - and the word  begins with 'N'! 

Some of you may not agree with my reaction to this statement. And in most cases I will respect an alternative view. But, in this case, to state that the main reason for customers entering a boozer, is food, is absurd and totally unfounded - and it doesn't do any favours for the much beleaguered pub trade.    


  1. Chief executive Ralph Findlay told the BBC: "We aim to use the cash from the pub sales to build new ones. Some pubs are not matching what customers are demanding. In 2013 we served 30 million meals, with food now the principal reason for around 80% of customer visits in our destination pubs," More disposals of non-restaurant pubs are therefore likely, the company said.

    I guess they are following the Whitbread model of off-loading wet-led pubs in less affluent areas and moving to "destination pubs" aka vast "family" restaurants that most people drive to. There is more profit per customer (and no doubt more profit overall) in that sort of approach but it's not the sort of place you tend to pop in for a pint or two. Next move for them is probably a hotel or coffee shop chain and then get out of brewing altogether.

  2. I would say that outside town centres and inner-urban areas most pubs now do more business from food than drink. I'd say that's also true of many Wetherspoons. In many rural areas most pubs have now become restaurants in all but name. And, like it or not, that's where the growth is.

    1. Difference is that JDW are mostly town centre/urban locations and do attract large numbers of drinkers by not being very child friendly and actively promoting ale. I suspect Marstons with its focus on food, families and fastcask in ring road locations will move away from ale promotion.

  3. I have just looked at Marstons Preliminary presentation document. 30 million meals per year (56% of sales) with an average spend of £6.40 per person. Perhaps that includes deals where you get food and a pint as an inclusive price. I wonder what the figure would be if you factored out children eating additive and chips on a Sunday visit? It is still a lot of sales for drinks.

  4. Once again a great Blog and agree with you entirely, The same approach applies to Greene King as well, two small pubs are to be sold in Aldershot as they make more money on wet sales, Greene King say increasing number of customers want food led pubs, Disagree with their statement, it is just accountants trying making short term profits.