Consumers redefining the pub
Dublin publicans believe that after five tough years the capital’s economy is strengthening and that as a result the outlook for the pub trade is improving.
6 November 2013
Speaking at a conference yesterday entitled ‘The Future of the Dublin Pub’ LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keefe said that while it was clear the sector still faced serious challenges, he was optimistic about the future.
“Ten years ago 75% of alcohol was sold in bars with off-licenses accounting for 25%,” he told the 200 delegates (comprising publicans and drinks suppliers) to the conference which was held in the Morrison Hotel, “Now, off-trade sales accounts for 55% and as one of our key speakers Leo Crawford from BWG Group confirmed the multiples will continue to compete strongly in the alcohol market in the future.
“In that context it’s vital that our members review their offering and evolve to meet the changing market conditions.”
The Dublin economy and the Dublin trade is improving however, so the future is bright for publicans who are prepared to innovate, he added.
“We heard today how publicans are doing that in the US, the UK and here in Dublin. The Dublin pub is a tremendous asset for this city and we want to ensure it continues to offer Dubliners and visitors a memorable experience every time they visit.”
Kay McCarthy, a consumer expert and Managing Director of MCCP, The Planning Agency, told delegates that consumers are redefining the pub and that in order to be successful pubs must evolve to meet their needs.
She said that people on a night out are looking for escape, new experiences, fun and a sense of community.
“The pub next door is not the publican’s main rival. It’s Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and on-demand TV,” she said, “Publicans cannot assume that their customers have stayed the same. We have seen a 42% rise in craft beers this year while the number of Bring Your Own restaurants has exploded. We live in a fast-moving environment but in order to be successful a pub must connect strongly in some way with its customer base.”
She also warned publicans that their pubs cannot be all things to all people and concluded, “A pub must play to its strengths. Pubs should make themselves famous for something and do it really well. That is key”.
That point was re-emphasised by international speakers including publicans Paul Nolan from the US and Lee Cash from the UK.
Other speakers at the event included John Doddy, a Director with Deloitte; Seáneen Sullivan, one of the owners of L Mulligan Grocer and WJ Kavanaghs pubs and the ideas man behind the 16-strong Peach Pubs group in the UK, Lee Cash.
A full report will follow in our November issue.