File Photograph. Publican Vivian Carroll of Judge Roy Beans in Newbridge is among the Kildare publicans who gave their thoughts on the current state of the pub industry.
A number of Kildare publicans have reacted to the stark findings in a recent report from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (Digi).
The report, which was published on August 4 last, showed that a fifth of pubs (1,829 pubs) in Ireland have permanently shut since 2005.
Furthermore, the report was found that a total of 349 bars closed during the pandemic.
In the context of Kildare, the county has seen a 13.6 per cent decline in the number of pubs still operating.
Commenting on this finding, Sinéad Ronan, the public affairs manager at County Kildare Chamber (CKC), said: "We have seen across Kildare a decrease in the number of pubs in the county.
"The decline does seem to correlate with the increases in the number of people drinking at home, with the sharpest decline happening during the Covid-19 pandemic, where a number of harsh restrictions impacted directly on the pub and restaurant trade particularly."
Ms Ronan added that Kildare is also seeing a problem regarding staff retention in the hospitality sector — which is becoming a significant problem.
She explained: "This will continue to be an issue in the weeks and months ahead and something the Chamber is vocalising with key stakeholders on a regular basis."
"This will form part of our Pre-Budget 2023 Submission, which we will launch later this week."
Kavanagh's Pub Naas. Pic: kavanaghspubnaas on Instagram
Neil Farragher of Kavanagh’s pub in Naas also commented on the findings in the Digi report, saying that he believes the decrease is due to a myriad of factors.
These include greater awareness and caution surrounding drink driving, the introduction of the 2004 smoking ban, customers choosing pubs with food offerings and the pandemic.
However, he stressed that the last factor was not unique to Kildare, and was instead a nationwide one.
Mr Farragher added: "I do think that the changes regarding food in pubs and outside dining are for the better.
"People’s standards regarding food and drinks, and pubs that serve food and drink, have gone up and Ireland has become more food-centric."
McGowan's pub/Apollo nightclub in Newbridge
Michael McGowan of McGowan’s pub/Apollo nightclub in Newbridge also gave his thoughts on the issue, telling the Leader that transport and infrastructure facilities in Kildare were an issue, adding: 'they are not the best'.
He also expressed concern about the rising costs involved with running a pub.
Mr McGowan explained: "The government has been excellent in helping pubs during the pandemic, but the costs across all industries are increasing.
"It is for this reason that some people are, for example, only going out one night a week to the pub instead of two nights a week.
"It’s the same reason why we don’t open the pub in Newbridge on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays, the cost is just too much."
Mr McGowan said he would be in favour of a decrease in excise duties, referring to the government’s introduction of excise reduction on cider last year.
He also pointed to the 'minimal level' of excise duties charged to pubs based in Spain.
Mr McGowan further said that the Ukraine crisis was a large factor in why costs surrounding gas and electricity have gone up.
He continued: "I know that my personal costs for running my business have gone up by 50 to 60 per cent, due to the crisis and the pandemic.
"But even without Covid-19, costs have been increasing, and I can see more pubs closing down in the future if this trend continues."
Vivian Carroll of Judge Roy Beans in Newbridge also echoed Mr McGowan’s sentiments regarding the rising costs, calling it 'a worrying but unsurprising trend.'
Judge Roy Beans in Newbridge
"Costs are through the roof. The pub market has always been a difficult one, as it is very labour intensive, but our profit margins have been affected by the pandemic.
"There has also been a change in habits in Irish society… pubs are yet to have that big comeback following the pandemic, there is less reliance on the pub."
"We’re also conscious about trying to keep costs low for our customers, so that they get value for money."
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