Highland Pubs buck UK-wide closure trend

January 8th, 2019 | Posted in: Bar News,News

Here’s a reason for licensees to be cheerful in what might be an otherwise challenging month, well those in the far north of Scotland at any rate, because pubs in the Highlands appear to be bucking a UK-wide pub and bar closure trend.

Analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that despite a quarter of all pubs shutting in the UK, there are 14% more pubs in the Highlands than there were 10 years ago.

The ONS says that more than 11,000 pubs have closed in the UK in the last decade – a fall of 23%. Yet tourism, the Highland region’s most important industry supporting 25,000 jobs, was boosted by 6.5 million visitors to the area last year.

Owner of Inverness-shire’s Applecross Inn, Judith Fish, has just been decorated with an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2019. She puts the Highlands outperforming the rest of the UK down to a ‘drastic’ rise in quality and standards. She told DRAM, “I’ll be celebrating 30 years at The Applecross Inn on the 14th of January and in that time things have improved drastically, both in my own business and other businesses too, so I’m not surprised pubs in the Highlands are faring so well. I moved up from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, coming from a business where I was used to couples who came out for dinner once or twice per week. But in Applecross, people had a pan of soup on the stove at home so it was our job to encourage them out with a quality food and drink offering.”

She continued, “Frankly the food that was on offer in the Highlands was often atrocious, but that’s no longer the case now provenance is king. Scotland has the best fresh produce in the UK and that’s its strength. In terms of what we’re doing, and now that we have our own brewery, customers know where their beer’s come from compared to the days the dray cart pulled up with what could’ve been ‘any old’ beer. In a wider sense, similar types of entrepreneurship are in evidence all over the Highland region, although there’s still room for improvement.”

Martin Donnelly is co-owner of The Craigdarroch Inn on the banks of Loch Ness (pictured). He puts the stats down to tourism and beefed-up investment in the area. Speaking to DRAM, he said, “New investment and tourism and the opening of a new campsite near to us encouraged us to add a bar onto the hotel five years ago because the nearest one at the time was over four miles away and we haven’t looked back since.”

He continued, “Destination Loch Ness has now grown to become VisitInvernessLochNess, the Tourism Business Improvement District (BID) for Inverness and Loch Ness, after an injection of funding from the government. There are also been more events in the region, like the Beast Race, the Etape Loch Ness Bike Race and Loch Ness marathon. I’ve also noticed more tearooms and cafes being renovated as well as more businesses opening in the area in general.”

East Dunbartonshire also experienced growth, with an increase of 20% or more in pubs.

East Renfewshire and East Ayrshire saw the largest decline in pub numbers. Both areas have 40% fewer pubs than 10 years ago.

Other areas of Scotland have also seen declines, including Moray, Angus, Fife and the Scottish Borders where there the numbers have fallen by 20% or more.

Orry Shand named Chef of the Year at ScotHot

Mon 18th March 2019

Orry Shand, of Entier, won Scottish Chef of the Year at this year’s ScotHot at Glasgow’s SECC, sponsored by Brakes Sco... Read more.

Average spend on late-night out increases 15.5% to almost £70

Mon 18th March 2019

The average spend on a late-night out has increased 15.5% to £68.68, according to the latest Deltic Night Index, compared with £59.49 for ... Read more.

Scottish chefs set out vision to reform hospitality industry 

Thu 14th March 2019

More than 60 chefs and cooks from across Scotland have pledged their support to a new culinary manifesto, which aims to reform Scotland’s ... Read more.

SCALA boss welcomes Brexit delay

Thu 14th March 2019

Theresa May will make a third attempt to get her EU withdrawal deal through Parliament in the next week after MPS voted to reject a no-deal ... Read more.

Historic Auchtermuchty pub on the market

Wed 13th March 2019

The Forest Inn in Auchtermuchty is now on the market with offers invited for the three-storey property. Christie’s and Co in Edinburgh is ... Read more.

Hotfoot it to ScotHot

Wed 13th March 2019

Which licensee worth his or her salt isn’t looking for an opportunity to meet with suppliers, network with others to share ideas and i... Read more.


Tue 12th March 2019

Buzzworks Holdings has been named in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work for in the UK for the fourth consecutive year. It recognise... Read more.

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival returns for 2019 with foodie focus

Tue 12th March 2019

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival returns to the city this May, from Friday 24 – Saturday 25 May, with a special foodie focus. It’s... Read more.


Mon 11th March 2019

The achievements of top Scottish licensees were celebrated at Star Pubs & Bars’ annual Star Awards. The awards were the biggest ever h... Read more.

ScotHot study shines spotlight on mental health in hospitality sector

Mon 11th March 2019

Nearly 60% of people working in Scotland’s hospitality industry have experienced mental health problems at work, a new national survey has... Read more.

The Beer and Now

Thu 7th March 2019

It’s the world’s most popular drink after water and tea. There’s even a crater on the moon named after it. We’re talking about beer ... Read more.


Thu 7th March 2019

BrewDog debuts its new Draft House pub called The Hop & Anchor, on Exchange Street, in its home city of Aberdeen, on Friday 8th March. I... Read more.

Whisky storms to the top of Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index with 40% annual growth

Thu 7th March 2019

The Wealth Report 2019 reveals that new entrant whisky has topped the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII), surging in value by 40% ... Read more.


Wed 6th March 2019

Morgenrot’s Argentine beer brand Quilmes has undergone a full brand revamp including a new packaging makeover of its bottles and cans, and... Read more.


Wed 6th March 2019

Carlsberg UK has unveiled a new, ‘better’ Carlsberg Danish Pilsner to minimise its environmental impact, with sustainable packaging and ... Read more.

Star Pubs & Bars injects £960,000 investment into four Edinburgh pubs

Tue 5th March 2019

Two multiple operators are undertaking major investments with Star Pubs & Bars as part of a £960,000 investment in four Edinburgh pubs ... Read more.


Tue 5th March 2019

The historic centre-piece domed ceiling at The Counting House in Glasgow’s George Square, Wetherspoon’s first pub in Scotland that opene... Read more.

Design Focus: The Crescent

Tue 5th March 2019

It’s been a long time coming, but Bubbles and Rahul Randev of the R Group have finally unveiled their latest Glasgow venture, The Crescent... Read more.

Design Focus: Cold Town House

Tue 5th March 2019

Bucket loads of divine design inspiration evidently rained down on Tibbatts Abel, the people responsible for the look and feel of Cold Town ... Read more.

Diageo launches new series of films to celebrate 2019 International Women’s Day

Mon 4th March 2019

As the world comes together this International Women’s Day on March 8th to celebrate #BalanceforBetter Diageo has released a new seri... Read more.