'4,000 bad pubs likely to close'
Up to 4,000 pubs will close in the next year - but they are ones "stuck in the 1980s", offering indifferent drink and food, according to a new guide.
The closures are bad news for staff and customers, but it is high time "bad pubs" went out of business, giving visionary and energetic licensees a chance to open new ones, it argues.
The Good Pub Guide 2014 predicts that more than 1,000 new pubs will open next year, often in former hostelries which have been shuttered for years.
Between 2,500 and 4,000 will go out of business, but the guide quotes a successful landlord saying there are too many pubs in the wrong place, chasing the wrong market.
"The bad pubs are still being culled, just like lions pick off the slowest of the herd. It makes the pub industry more robust and far better placed for the future," he said.
The guide said standards are improving in pubs, amid increasing vocational training among staff, but it called for pubs to name their chefs on menus as part of moves to close the "absurd status gap" between TV chefs and those working in pubs.
A survey by the guide showed a 65p difference in the price of a pint of beer between Staffordshire (the cheapest) and London (the most expensive), with the average pint across the UK costing £3.20.
When the guide was launched in 1983 there were a handful of national beer brands, but now more than 7,000 beers are on offer, produced by hundreds of brewers. Beer brewed by pubs themselves, on the premises, typically cost 40p a pint less than the local average, the guide found.
The Pub of The Year was named as the Olive Branch in Clipsham, Rutland, with other awards including the best landlord (Tim Gray of the Yew Tree in Lower Wield, Hampshire), brewery (Fuller, Smith & Turner), new pub (Bulls Head, Mottram St Andrew, Cheshire), dining pub (Stagg, Titley, Herefordshire) and whisky pub (Bon Accord, Glasgow).
More than 4,700 pubs are featured in the guide.