Shropshire Star

Closing early to save on costs when there are no bookings is 'common sense' says pub landlord

Closing early when a pub has no bookings or is empty is "common sense" with everyone in the hospitality sector feeling the pinch, a pub landlord has said.

Landlord Neil Taylor of the Fox at Shipley

Neil Taylor, who runs the Fox at Shipley, between Bridgnorth and Wolverhampton, said the food-based pub already tended to close at around 10pm on Mondays and Tuesdays if trade slowed down.

It comes after Wolverhampton giant Marston's announced some of its pubs would shut early this month – at 10pm – to help save on increasing energy costs.

The move would affect managed house pubs.

Mr Taylor said: "We're tenants, so we're not governed by Marston's policy but of course we can take it on as guidance. On Monday and Tuesday, especially during this time of year during the colder months, we tend to do that (close early) anyway.

"We're a food-based pub as well, so we don't get late-night drinkers coming in so we shut on those days at around 10pm. We've got more of a free reign (being tenants), but we tend to follow their guidance.

"But it's mostly common sense anyway in the colder, darker months, because if you've got no bookings and nobody in you'd close early. Every penny counts."

The businessman said the pub was still battling high energy bills, but had a positive Christmas period despite the World Cup and a cold snap which both affected the Bridgnorth Road pub's trade.

"We're still under continuing pressure, same as everyone and his dog at home, and our utility bills are starting to add up through the long dark winter months," he said.

"We had a decent Christmas, obviously seeing as we're food-driven the World Cup did affect us – people don't come to us to watch the football. When England were sadly knocked out, we woke up the next morning and there was 10 inches of snow and we had that cold snap.

"But as a whole, we had a good period but it's trying to control the costs at the moment. You can't keep passing on all the increases to the customers, we're Wolverhampton, we're not London – we can't charge £10 for a pint.

"It's been tough, but fingers crossed. Where there's a will, there's a way and we're not the only ones in the hospitality industry who've been impacted."

Marston's said the decision to cut its hours would give staff a "well-earned rest" and allow them to be efficient with energy usage during a traditionally quiet time for the sector.

Some M&B pubs have already been shutting earlier on quiet nights in a bid to save on fuel bills. Its Sizzling Pubs chain introduced early closing on some nights this month with increased energy costs a factor.