Starting a Public House

  • Price: £5.99
  • Published: May 2017
  • Type: Business Opportunity Profile
  • Format: PDF
  • Qualifications and skills
  • Key market issues and trends
  • Trading, commercial and legal issues
  • Legislation
  • Further information


The majority of public houses are owned by a pub company (pubco) or brewery and operated under a traditional pub tenancy agreement or tied lease. Both tenancy agreements and leases are made between the pubco or brewery and the publican who will run the business. Leases typically include a beer tie, which is an agreement that obliges the publican to purchase stock from the pubco or brewery, or a supplier they have nominated. However, there are reportedly around 18,000 independently owned public houses in the UK (referred to as freehold pubs).

Increasingly in recent years, local communities have taken over struggling pubs to ensure that they remain as a community asset. Government funding to support community pubs with advice, grants and loans has been made available.

All pubs are highly regulated under legislation relating to food safety, alcohol licensing, fire safety, planning consent, health and safety, and waste disposal. Food safety legislation does not only relate to safely supplying meals and bar snacks but also to safely supplying alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) there are around 50,000 pubs in the UK. In 2016 CAMRA reported that during the second half of 2015 pubs in the UK were closing at a rate of 21 each week, although this was far less than the closure rate in 2009 when 45 pubs closed each week.

This profile provides information about starting up and running a public house. It describes the skills required, the training available, the current market trends and the key trading issues. It also explains the legislation that must be complied with and provides sources of further information and support.

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