CEO Statement on the Rise of Bankruptcies in NI

23 November 2010

Following new figures that show a rise in the number of bankruptcies in Northern Ireland, including amongst publicans, Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Pubs of Ulster said:

�The increase in the number of bankruptcies in Northern Ireland in the last year is very troubling but unfortunately it is a threat that is more likely in the pub trade given the range of pressures and costs which are negatively impacting our business. �The pub industry faces a range of financial pressures that many other aspects of the retail alcohol industry do not. Pub property rates for example, are on average 30 per cent higher compared to any other commercial property, including other sectors of the licensed trade. This, in addition to entertainment licenses, insurance, electricity and other business costs means that most pubs face extortionate overheads just to open day to day. �Pubs which are able to open and operate have to contend with unfair competition from irresponsible registered clubs and restaurants that operate outside their license, having a direct negative impact on law abiding pubs, registered clubs and restaurants. In addition, pubs also face unfair competition from the large supermarket chains, some of which are offering below cost alcohol prices, which has been a major contributing factor behind the fall in customer numbers experienced by many pubs. �Despite the �1 billion that the licensed trade contributes to the local economy each year, pubs are not receiving the support and help they need from the Northern Ireland Assembly and financial institutions. With banks reluctant to lend and the Assembly considering several proposals that directly impact the sector, positive action is needed to prevent further closures and more publicans being forced into bankruptcy.�