Capital's pubs pulling in the right direction as sales buck five-year trend
AFTER five years of declines, the Licensed Vintners Association says that Dublin pub sales are finally improving.
LVA chief executive Donall O'Keeffe (right) 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-licences accounting for 25pc," he told an audience of 200 publicans 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-licence sales for the first time in seven years.
"Basically, more people are drinking in pubs," said Mr Glancey, 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.
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.
Ms McCarthy also warned: "A pub must play to its strengths. Pubs should make themselves famous for something and do it really well. That is key."