Pubs need to diversify if they are to survive

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How refreshing to read of some encouraging news for the hard-pressed pub trade.

And it comes from a somewhat surprising source – a rival selling beer right on pubs’ doorsteps.

Far from snatching trade from neighbouring pubs, Gosport’s Winterfest beer festival last weekend actually boosted takings for several of the town’s hostelries.

New customers packed the town’s locals as a result of sampling the ales at the festival and moved on to the pubs to try more.

And it shows what can be done if pubs work in tandem with the organisers of festivals such as these.

One landlady, Deana Geary, of The Junction Tavern in Leesland Road, said her takings rose by 20 per cent.

She said: ‘It’s important that we see more beer festivals because they generate more interest in the local pubs.’

As we report on page 12 today, the same was true of The Clarence Tavern, in Clarence Road.

Landlord Patrick Noonan said: ‘Anything that helps the pub industry at the moment has got to be a good thing.

‘We’re getting slaughtered by the supermarkets.

‘Winterfest is one of the best things to have happened in Gosport.’

Depressingly, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has reported that 26 pubs are closing a week in Britain – a total of 1,300 a year.

The majority of them are neighbourhood locals and if they are to survive and maintain the traditional pub culture so essential to the British way of life, they need to think laterally and become more involved in events of this kind.

Encouragingly, the Portsmouth Beer Festival returns to the city in May after an absence of four years and many pubs are joining that celebration of ales and ciders.

It’s another reason for supporting The News’ Shop Local campaign in which we’re asking you to support retailers that are run by and employ local people.

If we are to retain neighbourhood local pubs, it’s up to the community to support them... and the pubs to branch out too.