Devizes landlords calling time as pub trade struggles
9:30am Sunday 26th January 2014 in By Joanne Moore
Two Devizes pubs are looking for new tenants as licensees struggle to make a go of the pub trade.
The Bell by the Green needs new tenants just 18 months after popular licensees Paul and Lesley McDonald pulled their last pints at the pub and announced trading conditions were too difficult to cope with.
Eddie Schofield, who took over in 2012, has told owners Wadworth he wants to leave.
Mr Schofield said: “I have been in this industry for 23 years and it has never been as bad as this.
“It seems to me the brewery just wants to offer support to newbies rather than doing more for experienced tenants who, with the right help, could turn a pub around.
“There are a number of problems but it seems to me the brewery and the Government just want to bleed us dry. We need a reduction in rates and rent.”
He also blamed cheap supermarket drink and said all-day opening had increased running and staff costs but had not increased the number of customers or how much they spent.
The brewery is also advertising the tenancy of The Moonrakers in Nursteed Road. It was taken over by Russell Allinson in 2010 after Stuart and Elaine Burlingham left after just 18 months, forcing Wadworth to close the pub while it searched for a new tenant.
Wadworth marketing director Paul Sullivan said there was a big difference between breweries such as Wadworth and companies such as Enterprise Inns which just owns pubs. He said: “The pub trade has been very difficult for the past seven years ever since the smoking ban was brought in.
“People’s drinking habits have also changed because of the economic situation.
"More and more buy cheap drink from supermarkets rather than going out to the pub. But we do everything we possibly can to support our tenants with training and promotion advice.
"It is true that beer can be bought more cheaply from some wholesalers but if owners of freehouses get a hole in their roof they have to pay for it to be repaired.
“If that happens to our tenants then we pay.”
He said the brewery was concerned when pubs were taken on and then quickly given up again.
Wadworth is drawing up plans for a major revamp of The Moonrakers but at this stage said he was unable to give any details.
Other Wiltshire pubs that are advertised as needing new tenants on the Wadworth website include: The Woodbridge Inn near Pewsey, where the current landlords have only been in charge for around a year; The Cross Keys at Rowde; The Bull Inn at Hindon near Chippenham and the Three Horseshoes at Burbage.
The Artichoke in Devizes was sold by Wadworth last year and is now being turned into flats.
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