Up to 8,000 tenanted pubs could go out of business a report by the City firm West LB Panmure claims.

In its report, Licensed to print money? 2003, the company said leading operators were increasing the size of their outlets in response to regulatory and pricing pressures, putting small and poor-performing sites under strain.

The report said: "Therefore it is not surprising that leading operators claim that just 8,000 (rather than the current 12,000) of the UK's 65,700 pubs, bars and nightclubs should be managed, and that the bottom 10% to 30% of the tenanted market will close."

Mark Hastings, the communications director of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "The total number of pubs and bars has been pretty stable over recent years and, although some have closed, others have taken their place.

"What we do know for certain is that pubs are by far the most popular venues for people to spend their leisure money. There have been a number of predictions about the demise of pubs that have been found to be both premature and unfounded."

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