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Crisis-hit pubs must act now to avoid being in the last-chance saloon

PUBS must see themselves as brands and do all they can to build an image from "faith, hope and clarity", marketing expert John Fanning says.

Speaking at the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) annual lunch, Bord Bia's Brand Forum chairman said every pub should consider itself unique, and strive for impact and respect.

Bar owners should try to find out what it is people like about a pub.

Folklore surrounding a pub has a role to play: why are there not more stories about pubs, the former McConnells Advertising boss asked.

He recalled a south Dublin housebuyer who limited his search to houses within walking distance of Gleeson's pub in Booterstown.

Fanning (pictured) said publicans should tell people more about their premises and its history and try to be the main local story. Pubs should follow Starbucks and get into the 'third space', the next in line to home and work.

While men are regulars, more could be done to make women feel more comfortable on their own in pubs. Pubs should promote craft beers and start a 'cuisine revolution'.

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) says pubs are "in crisis", with alcohol sales in bars down by a third in five years. Sales fell by 6pc last year and 6,000 jobs have been lost since 2009. Even the Dail bar has not escaped, with Guinness sales down 20pc last year.

DIGI is urging the Government to reverse the taxes it imposed on alcohol last year.