Research shows 75% of licensees in Scotland hit by lower drink drive laws: Research carried out among BII Scotland members has shown a dramatic impact on pub businesses following the introduction of the lower drink-driving limit with 75% of licensees adversely affected. The trade body, which represents publicans across the country, has carried out a snap study following feedback that the lower limit was affecting trade. BII Scotland Chairman Stephen McGowan, said: “This snap study of our members shows a drastic effect on the pub trade with 75% of respondents adversely affected by the new laws and just under half of all businesses surveyed saying staffing levels have had to be reduced.” The study was conducted to help the BII identify what support and guidance their members are likely to require when facing this new challenge for their businesses. Results show that 84% of BII Scotland members agree with Paul Waterson, chief executive of The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, who believes that the new laws could have a greater effect on licensed retail trade businesses than the smoking ban. McGowan added: “The trade will work hard to adapt as it did following the smoking ban, with many hard working publicans introducing steps such as a greater range of lower ABV products and smaller glass sizes, but as our survey shows, responsible drinking habits such as a pint after work or a glass of wine with Sunday lunch have been taken out of the equation for many, it means an even greater hardship for traders who lose not just the drink but the meal or other discretionary spend that may have gone with it.” Publicans have attempted to alleviate any reduction in trade with over half (58%) increasing their range of low alcohol drinks, hot beverages and soft drink products as well as providing customers with information on public transport options. “Pubs are an intrinsic part of local communities across Scotland, a major employer and essential contributor to our world renowned hospitality. They are also a safe, regulated environment for people to relax and enjoy the company of their family and friends. In the Year of Food and Drink, we call upon the Scottish Government to strive to assist these important social and cultural assets,” added Stephen.
Antic London buys microbrewery interest: Industry sources report that Antic London, the operator of 30 plus south London pubs backed by Downing and led by Antony Thomas, has acquired an interest in a south London microbrewery. Located in central Croydon, Clarence & Fredericks is a ten-barrel microbrewery launched in October 2012. It was set up by Duncan Woodhead and the brewery is named after his son, Frederick, and the road where he lived in Sutton. He was formerly a brewer at WJ King in Horsham. On the website, Woodhead said: “Providing quality real ales for local pubs is particularly important to me because I’m an active CAMRA member and supporter of community-focused pubs. Turning my passion for real ale into a growing business has been a labour of love.” Over the past five years, the Downing-funded Antic London estate has grown from three to 25 sites, with another six sites due to open in the first half of 2015. Of these sites, 26 are freehold. This is in addition to a dozen leasehold sites that have been self-funded by the management team. Total sales for the Downing-funded sites grew by 20% over the 12 months to 31 December, with like-for-like sales growth of 8.8%. The Downing VCT and EIS funds that had funded the initial Antic freehold acquisitions matured last year. However, Antic reported in February that a new funding package with Barclays had allowed the retention of five core sites and created a springboard for further growth.