What’s happening to Irish pubs?

The Irish pub, once so successful it was exported worldwide. The recent years, however, have not been so kind. What is happening to the Irish pub trade?

After some turbulent years, the Irish pub trade has stabilised and is now slowly moving towards a recovery, of sorts. Increased visitor footfall (aided in part by favourable exchange rates for the pound sterling and the US dollar) and a rise in employment at home, have been key to increased trade in 2015.

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Meanwhile, publicans like Colin Dolan, Trevor O’Shea and Aidan Clancy in Dublin have been expanding their portfolios. The Mercantile and Capital Bars groups also announced their plans for a merger.

The active growth of the Irish pub trade is mostly coming from Dublin and other big towns and tourist hotspots. Signs of recovery are less visible in rural areas.

What the future holds

  • Ireland’s minimum wage has increased from €8.65 to €9.15 per hour. Should this figure increase again, pub costs will continue to rise.
  • The government’s proposal to introduce minimum unit pricing (MUP) to reduce harmful drinking (mainly aimed at off-licenses and supermarkets) is currently on hold. If this is replaced by a higher tax rate, pubs will also be hit.
  • Ireland’s craft beer boom presents real opportunities for the industry; this market had a turnover of around €40 million in 2015 while microbreweries created 159 jobs during the same year.
  • Food is another growth area; food sales now account for up to 50% of turnover in some pubs.

The numbers game 

  • 8,200,000: The number of overseas visitors expected to visit Ireland in 2016. Visitors spend 21% of their holiday expenditure on food and drink.
  • 5,000: The number of seasonal jobs created in the pub sector in 2015.
  • €49,000,000: The value of the 39 pubs sold in 2015, up from €44m for 38 bars the previous year.
  • 23%: The amount of tax on drink Irish consumers pay; the third highest in Europe.

READ MORE: Here is a full review of the pub sector in Ireland and an outlook for 2016.


Main image – Aitormmfoto / Shutterstock.com.