Pubs are spending more than a quarter of their turnover on staff payroll costs, according to new research from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). The newly released benchmarking report found that the average British licensed premises spent 53% of its turnover on controllable costs, with 27% of this going on employee wages. The trade body said that payroll costs had risen from around 17% 10 years ago and that the latest figures revealed the extent to which new employment laws, added immigration controls and hiring good chefs had pushed up costs for pubs. The ALMR study of 36 companies operating a total of 2,675 managed outlets found that 11% of turnover went on premises (excluding rent), 7% on entertainment, 4% on utilities and 4% on operational costs. Spend on entertainment was down 31% in community pubs between March 2007 and December 2007, with live music events and Sky being sacrificed as pubs struggled to keep a lid on costs. Kate Nicholls, head of communications for ALMR, however, pointed out that the poll had revealed that all licensed premises, including food led pubs, wine bars and sites with accommodation, as well as nightclubs spent money on security and door staff. Nicholls said: “It is interesting to note that despite what the government says about increased policing costs, the industry is already investing in policing its own venues, with costs including door staff and CCTV.” The study, which analysed a range of licensed premises, showed that the smaller the operator, the better the performance, with almost two thirds of companies that achieved better than 5% annual growth having an estate of 20 or less. Nich Bish, chief executive of ALMR, said: “The niche operators outperformed the market, since they are more dynamic and can respond to local changes better than big operators.” Wine bars were shown to be the only growth area, while community pubs have seen a net decline of 10% over the last year. The ALMR, which launched its first benchmarking survey at the end of last year, said that it is the first of its kind to have been carried out on the licensed sector. It plans to update the figures annually and use the results for lobbying the government over issues such as the minimum wage, live music, pay TV and the 2010 business rates evaluation.