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Now is ‘time to invest’ in leisure and licensing sector

A leading expert in the leisure and licensing trade has revealed that interest in the sector from investors is strong following figures showing growth.

The latest statistics from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have revealed that employment in the sector has grown almost 10 per cent, and the number of breweries in the UK increased from 500 in 2000 to 1,700 in 2014. Beer sales were also up, increasing 1.3 per cent last year.

Malcolm Ireland, partner and head of Leisure & Licensing at Napthens solicitors, has revealed these are positive signs that the sector is all set for a period of growth, but there remain a number of issues such as the difficulty of recruitment.

He added: “These figures highlight just some of the opportunities available in the sector. To many, we are now leaving behind the downturn sparked by recession and leisure and licensing is fast becoming an attractive proposition for investors.

“However, there are still hurdles to overcome. Despite the cuts in alcohol duty and the scrapping of the beer duty escalator, government tax receipts from the sector remain high, so there is more that could be done in this regard to help the industry. There is also significant caution from many landlords in relation to the forthcoming Market Rent Only option which looms on the horizon.

“Recruitment also remains an issue, with the sector sometimes not considered an appealing or long-term career prospect. In my experience this is very far from the truth, with highly rewarding careers available.

“The figures also show that, while alcohol consumption itself is down 20 per cent from its peak in 2004, levels remained stable in 2014. This is interesting reading as many predicted a range of horror story scenarios when 24-hour drinking was brought in in 2005.”


Leisure & Licensing - head of Leisure & Licensing - Malcolm Ireland