Jeremy Hansbro, regional manager of Enterprise Inns, responds to Nick Love’s recent article
Nick Love’s highly charged article about the closure of two York pubs, including one of Enterprise Inns’ sites The Jubilee, completely misrepresents the facts whilst failing to recognise the commercial reality behind our decision.
Firstly, Enterprise is totally committed to supporting our publicans so they can run and operate successful, viable pubs in the local community.
Over the last two years we have invested £135m across our estate, and the vast majority of this spend was in our leased and tenanted pubs.
At a local level, several pubs have benefitted from an on-going investment programme of £1.6 million during this period, including the Red Lion, Poppleton; the Nags Head, Micklegate; the Red Lion, Merchantgate and Watergate Inn.
Earlier this year we also spent £185,000 on refurbishing the Ship Inn, Strensall in order to get the pub back up and running after severe flood damage, whilst the Black Horse at York has also recently benefited from around £70,000 worth of improvements.
Rent £1 a week
Turning to the Jubilee, far from running the pub down as Nick Love suggested, every effort has been made to keep it trading with around £60,000 being spent on maintaining and upgrading facilities over the last few years.
However, since March 2010 three different operators have been unable to attract enough customers to make the Jubilee a going, viable concern with two of them being forced to liquidate the business.
The latest tenancy was taken out in August 2015 and even though the rent was only £1 a week, the pub still failed to operate at a profit.
Despite advertising to let the Jubilee as a business opportunity we have had no serious interest in taking the pub, and efforts to sell the freehold of the site with no restrictions have also been unsuccessful.
Against this background, we feel we are left with no alternative other than to close the Jubilee and consider other options including developing the site for residential accommodation.
Not enough customers
We fully understand that pub closures are often very emotive, but when we decide to sell a site we are able to recycle the proceeds into our on-going investment programme which allows us to maximise the potential of other pubs within our estate.
York has a huge number of licensed premises and more new pubs and bars are opening every month (for example Mr P’s Curious Tavern),whilst the council’s website regularly reveals further new or amended licence applications.
Whilst competition increases consumer choice, it also means that some pubs such as the Jubilee are forced out of business because they are unable to attract a regular, sustainable customer base.
Ultimately the local council will decided whether the Jubilee is an asset of community value, but all the evidence we have suggests that far from being valued, not enough local people have chosen to support it.