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Albrighton train station pub owner optimistic for future despite industry pressure

By James Pugh | Telford | Business | Published:

A pub owner remains optimistic about the future of the business despite the industry being hit with cost pressures and closures.

In the pub, Alison and Craig Taylor with daughter Chloe

Alison Taylor, owner of Platform Alehouse in Albrighton, said they rely on the support of the locals and have focussed on building a reputation for high quality beers.

It comes as new figures have revealed close to 1,300 pubs have been shut down or converted over the past year.

New research has found that 25 pubs have closed every week, with many being switched to alternative uses such as homes and offices.

Experts have said rising business rates, a property tax levied on firms, are partly to blame for the pub closures.

Located at the train station in Albrighton, Platform Ale House is a unique business based around the Micropub model, but adapted to local client needs.

Mrs Taylor said: "It is very evident that large chain outlets are suffering and the demise of the British High Street – due to high rents, lack of consumer spending via local rather than online – is a key contributor.

"For us, we rely wholly on the support of the locals and being 'discovered' by new customers via proactive social media and our location on an operational train line between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

"We have not diversified into offering major food options for retail and have, instead, focused on building our reputation for high quality beers, locally sourced and kept well.

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"It's a simple philosophy but one that seems to work. Our biggest costs are rent and staff, whom are all part time and paid living wage rates. As a small business if we did not qualify for business rate relief, I don't believe we would be able to continue.

"The recent World Cup, however, gave us a stark reminder of just how fragile businesses in this sector are. Based on customer feedback, we decided not to show the games and had the quietest two weeks in our two-year history, which will take some time for us to rectify.

"So in summary, the outlook for Platform Ale House is stable, fragile but optimistic."

According to data from real estate adviser Altus Group, 1,292 pubs have disappeared from the high street, which also means they are not contributing to the Government's business rates pot.

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Retailers and restaurant groups have been affected by similar cost pressures, and have been contending with wage increases, alongside a fall in footfall and consumer spending.

This has triggered a string of high-profile administrations within the sector.

Most recently, Gaucho group collapsed into administration, leading to the immediate closure of the Cau restaurant chain and the loss of more than 500 jobs.

Retailers including Toys R Us, Maplin and Poundworld have also been disappearing from the high street.

David Shuttleworth, vice president at Altus Group, said: "The sad reality is that more pubs will continue to call time unless further financial support is provided by the Government.

"The Chancellor should be bold within his autumn Budget later in the year by giving pubs a helping hand through an unprecedented stimulus of freezing rate rises in April 2019 whilst increasing the pub discount."

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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