Belfast Telegraph

Pubs face 'precarious new year' as trade woes continue to mount

Northern Ireland's pubs face a "precarious" first quarter after losing trade because of heavy snow and water shortages, a trade body said.

Pubs of Ulster called on the Executive to help pubs facing an "extremely difficult time."

Hotels and pubs suffered a severe fall in trade with Christmas parties cancelled due to the snow, harmed further by water shortages following the thaw. Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster, described the festive period as "abysmal". He said many pubs would be closed for the new year period due to the water supply shortages, all at a time when pubs usually produce 20% of annual turnover.

"Unfortunately, unlike other businesses, the licensed trade has no opportunity to attempt to address this shortfall and retrieve the lost trade once the holiday period has passed. He said the trade faced a "precarious" time in the first three months of 2011, with publicans facing reduced cash flows. He called on the Government to help safeguard the 35,000 people currently employed in the industry.

Two publicans in Co Down, Kevin McAleenan of Ocean nightclub and Michael McConville of the Boathouse Inn, were advertised as bankrupt in November.