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.


Mon 25th March 2019

BrewBroker, the brewing industry’s peer-to-peer marketplace, is set to launch its platform in America. Well established in the UK, Bre... Read more.

AB InBev unveils Budweiser Brewing Group as new UK name

Mon 25th March 2019

Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I is the new name for AB InBev in the UK. the company also has a new President, Paula Lindenberg. T... Read more.

Dundee’s V&A helps boost visitor numbers to other attractions

Fri 22nd March 2019

Dundee’s V&A has helped boost visitor numbers at nearby attractions by up to 40%, says new research. In its first three months 341,265... Read more.

Scottish economic growth to remain ahead of the UK average in 2019

Fri 22nd March 2019

Scotland’s economic growth will slow this year but remain ahead of the UK average according to UK Economic Outlook report by Pricewate... Read more.

YO! Sushi to consolidate restaurant estate

Thu 21st March 2019

YO! Sushi has placed six UK sites on the market, including two in Scotland, as it looks to consolidate its restaurant estate.  The group ... Read more.

Greene King celebrates Flanders Fields fundraiser

Thu 21st March 2019

 Greene King has launched a special edition beer, Flanders Fields, brewed to mark the centennial anniversary of the end of the First World ... Read more.

The Highland Whisky Festival 2019

Thu 21st March 2019

Eight Highland Distilleries are introducing a brand-new Whisky Festival to celebrate the established Highland Whisky Trail. The Highlan... Read more.

PPL’s new SFE tariff to ‘cost sector £49m’

Wed 20th March 2019

Trade bodies have warned that music licensing company PPL’s new specially featured entertainment (SFE) tariff, which comes into effect on ... Read more.

Ivy Collection appoints new CFO

Wed 20th March 2019

The Ivy Collection, which will open its second Scottish restaurant in Glasgow on Buchanan Street in June after opening The Ivy on the Squa... Read more.

Bruce Taverns plan expansion and launch £20 million fundraiser

Wed 20th March 2019

Bruce Taverns is to raise £20 million to fund a growth programme through acquisitions. The Edinburgh-based pub company, ... Read more.


Tue 19th March 2019

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has confirmed the internal promotion of Graeme Littlejohn to the position of Director of Strategy and Co... Read more.

Johnnie Walker to build ‘best bar in the world’ in Edinburgh

Tue 19th March 2019

 Johnnie Walker has promised to create the “best bar in the world” in the “best brand attraction in the world” overlookin... Read more.

Borthwick Castle’s Kieran Rose is Scotland’s Tourism and Hospitality Hero

Tue 19th March 2019

Kieran Rose, Front of House Manager at Borthwick Castle, in Midlothian, has been namedScotland’s Tourism and Hospitality Hero at the 2018/... Read 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.