Belfast Telegraph

'We're just a working man's bar and the money is not there'

Case Study

Ann and Jim Bain have owned the historic Linfield Bar in Lisburn for more than 30 years.

The bar - a traditional working man's bar in the town centre - dates back to the 19th century.

But, says Ann, the enormous financial pressures on the pub business means the couple have decided to close the doors for good.

"Over the past five years, we have seen a terrible downturn in the trade," she said.

"And more so this past year.

"We're just a working man's bar with pool and darts - and the money is just not there. The working man hasn't got the same money to spend."

But for Ann, the main thing that has hit the pub trade is high VAT - now running at 20% - and cheap drink on sale in supermarkets.

"We can't buy drink wholesale at the prices supermarkets are selling it for," she said.

"You're making no money.

"You're lucky if you can cover your overheads - the rates, water charges, refuse collection charges, staff costs, maintenance and more.

"The bills keep coming in - and you're just hoping there's enough money coming in to cover them.

"Sky TV alone was costing us the guts of £700 per month, so we had to get rid of it," Ann said.

"But it's the cheap drink in supermarkets that's killing the bars.

"The day of the working man's bar is coming to an end, as far as I'm concerned.

"I can't see it ever coming back.

"People see you busy maybe on the weekend, but they don't see you during the week when there could be hardly a sinner in the place.

"But you've wages to pay and you're burning electricity whether you're busy or not.

"It's hard going.

"It would knock the heart out of you, when you see the way the trade has gone down from what it was."

Ann (68) and husband Jim (74) have now decided that there is no point carrying on with business the way it is, and are planning to put the Linfield Bar up for sale.

An on-trade drinks licence has a transfer value of around £90,000.

They are usually acquired by supermarkets or convenience stores so that they can sell alcohol to shoppers.

"Here, we're working just to pay your bills and keep the doors open," said Ann.

"That's just the way we feel at the minute.

"If people don't come in, what can you do?"

Belfast Telegraph

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