Belfast Telegraph

Pubs in Northern Ireland have weathered storm better than rest of UK

By John Mulgrew

Fewer pubs are now at risk of going under in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK.

Latest figures on insolvency from trade body R3 seem to show pubs in the province have weathered the storm of recession better than those elsewhere in the UK.

Just under one in five pubs are at a “higher than normal” risk of insolvency — that’s compared with the UK average of 27.3%.

Pubs of Ulster’s chief executive Colin Neill said while it was an encouraging sign that Northern Ireland’s pubs were themselves out of financial uncertainty, the figure remained high.

“It’s an encouraging sign that things are starting to turn. It’s sporadic, and we are seeing signs of recovery,” he said.

“One in five is still an alarming number — and Northern Ireland would once have been much higher.

“But this is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. Hopefully this time, it’s not a train.”

He said many pub owners had fought to keep their heads above water by working long hours, and in some case, taking on second jobs.

The figures also show the proportion of Northern Ireland restaurants at higher risk of insolvency is below the UK average.

Michael Neill, chairman of R3 in Northern Ireland, said the figures “show a strong performance by Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector”.

“While the performances of both sectors have remained steady in recent months, it is important not to become complacent,” he said. “The opening months of the year can often be a particularly challenging time for both industries.

“For those struggling, we advise seeking professional advice early to avoid long-term repercussions.”

Belfast Telegraph