Sunday 19 November 2017

Dublin's publicans are pulling in more cash with their pints

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

The Licensed Vintners Association says that Dublin pub sales are finally improving after five straight years of declines.

LVA chief executive Donall O’Keefe said yesterday that while it was clear the sector still faced serious challenges, he was optimistic about the future.

“Ten years ago 75pc of alcohol was sold in bars with off-licenses accounting for 25pc” he said at the organisation’s “The Future of the Dublin Pub” conference. “Now, off-trade sales accounts for 55pc and as one of our key speakers Leo Crawford from BWG Group confirmed, the multiples will continue to compete strongly in the alcohol market in the future”.

His comments will provide some degree of hope to hard-pressed publicans; nationally, pub sales have fallen by 33pc over the past five years. The remarks echoed those of C&C chief executive Stephen Glancey, who said last week that pub sales of Bulmers had exceeded off-license sales for the first time in seven years.

“Basically, more people are drinking in pubs," said Mr Glancey. "Consumer confidence is improving and that brings people back to pubs.

“Unemployment is a big part of it too, and that has stabilised in Ireland” he added, discussing C&C’s half-year financial results which showed that Irish sales of Bulmers had soared by 18pc.

Speakers at yesterday’s Vintners Association conference also highlighted that changing consumer behaviour is having a massive effect on sales.

“The pub next door is not the publican’s main rival. It’s Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and on-demand TV” said consumer expert Kay McCarthy. “Publicans cannot assume that their customers have stayed the same.”

She added that publicans are noticing a rise in demand for more traditional drinks given the new trend for all things nostalgic. “We have seen a 42pc rise in craft beers this year. We live in a fast moving environment but in order to be successful a pub must connect strongly in some way with its customer base” she said.

However Ms McCarthy also warned that pubs cannot be all things to all people. “A pub must play to its strengths. Pubs should make themselves famous for something and do it really well. That is key,” she concluded.

Irish Independent

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