The man heading a new “no frills” pub venture PoundPub, which offers pints for £1.50 and halves for £1, plans two more openings and has not ruled out expanding further across the country.
Mike Wardell plans to open in Atherton, Greater Manchester, and Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham. The first PoundPub is due to open next month in former mid-market pub Georgia Browns in Stockton. It is currently seeking a licence variation to sell alcohol from 8am.
The pub is owned by hotel, pub and leisure company Here For Your Hospitality, which operates across the north-east and Manchester.
Wardell said: “The idea is to offer a no-frills, value-for-money pub. We will offer, for example, a half of Foster’s for £1, with a pint at £1.50. But we will also have non-alcoholic drinks like Beck’s Blue for £1 a bottle. We are aiming to have three cask ales on, with prices upwards of £1.50 a pint.”
Wardell insisted the model had been fully tested during the four-month Atherton pilot, although without branding, and had driven the pub’s most successful December in three years.
He said: “Our target market is the daytime drinker and we were very successful in attracting that type of customer. We found that, when we trialled this, other pubs quickly started copying our model but soon gave up.
“We have a great relationship with our suppliers so we can get a good price. The margins are tight but we make economies on things like not having subscription TV.”
Asked whether this was a model that would work only in the north of England Wardell said: “We aren’t looking at the south at the moment because we don’t have premises there but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work there.”
Stockton councillors have been quick to criticise the plan and their reservations are shared by Balance — the regional alcohol office for the north-east.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “It’s sad that people are looking to put profit above the health and wellbeing of the public by aiming to sell alcohol in bulk at such low prices. It’s of no benefit to anyone other than the alcohol industry and it sets a dangerous precedent.
“We know price drives consumption and selling a pint of lager for £1.50 means a man can drink his daily allowance for less than £3. Unfortunately it appears that these prices are targeted specifically at the more cost-conscious, vulnerable people in our communities, such as heavy drinkers and young people. This is completely irresponsible.”