"A Pub for the People: How Community Ownership Empowers Us"

November 15, 2023 - Reading time: 3 minutes

We're stronger together at The New Clarence

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own a piece of your local pub? At The New Clarence Community Pub, we believe in the power of collective ownership and how it enriches our sense of community. It's more than just having a stake; it's about having a say in the future of our favourite watering hole.

Community Ownership vs Conventional Ownership

Community ownership of a pub fundamentally changes it's dynamics, both financially and socially. Let's look at the financial aspect first. Most pubs are owned by a Brewery or Pub Company. The New Clarence was owned by a Pub Company (PubCo for short). PubCos are essentially property managers. They own a huge number of properties, and rent them out to publicans who are then responsible for building their own business in those premises. At the end of the day, no matter what they might say to the contrary, PubCos are only interested in how much their property portfolio is earning for the shareholders. Rents are based not on the value of the property, but on how much the PubCo think it should be turning over - and I mean turnover, not profit. If a pub falls on hard times, often the PubCo will consider selling it. This is what happened to The New Clarence almost a decade or so ago, and it was sold from one PubCo to another not once, but six or seven times, with none of the new owners investing anything in essential maintenace. This is often the case; rather than investing in a pub when it's needed, a PubCo is far more likely to sit back and wait for it to start showing higher turnover. At that point they will A) pay for a refurbishment project and B) put the rent up...

But, if the pub is *owned* by the community - there is no rent to pay! Fixed overheads are therefore lower, and the pub will be free of any tie forcing it to buy stock through the PubCo. This makes a significant difference to the pub's viability. Also, the pub's biggest single overhead, the wages bill, can also be reduced because community pubs often benefit from volunteers padding out the rota around the employed staff.

Stronger Together

Releasing a pub from the grip of a PubCo brings more than just financial advantages.Collective ownership empowers us as a community. We have a stake in the success of our pub, motivating us to contribute ideas, volunteer, and use it's facilities to ensure its long-term viability. Moreover, it's a responsible choice. Together, we can uphold values that matter most to us, steering our pub in a direction that aligns with our community's needs, fostering an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and heard. If you choose to buy a share in the pub you're investing not only in a physical space but in the idea of togetherness. You're saying yes to a community-centric approach where each opinion matters and where we share a human focussed experience rather than just a commercially oriented product experience.

You can help us to create Hull's first community owned and managed pub simply by taking a couple of minutes to join the conversation about what it could be.