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In the drink

Pubs and hotels have been hit hard by the recession, regulation and changes in consumer demand, but lawyers have remained busy, in particular where clients are a new breed of establishment. Jenny Ramage reports

4 August 2009

According to the British Beer and Pub Association, pubs in the UK are closing at a rate of 52 per week. The typical English local pub, traditionally the ‘wet-led’ operations – establishments where people, mostly men, went for their regular pint of ale and a smoke – are disappearing.

The smoking ban, in force since July 2007, is undoubtedly a factor in the sharp decline of this type of pub, but it cannot be held solely accountable. “We’ve had these successive bits of bad news in the economy,” says Peter Holden, partner and founding member of Milton Keynes-based firm Kimbells, which acts nationally for brewers, pub companies and the licensed trade.

He continues: “People’s discretionary spend has been hit as a result of the recession, at the same time as tax duties being put up – the government now reportedly makes £85,000 out of each pub in the UK – and with the smoking ban too, this has led to the perfect storm.”

Tied down...

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