A Better Form of Business

The Plunkett Foundation has released key new reports on community pubs and shops

Plunkett’s “A Better Form of Business” reports into community pubs and community shops usually focus on the previous year, however, due to the pandemic they have included information relevant to 2020 too. These reports showed both sectors to be in robust health as the country was plunged into the uncertainty of Covid-19. The flagship reports also show that in many cases shops and pubs were able to overcome the challenges of lockdown to provide even more services than before.

Key findings

Community pubs have maintained a 100% record of survival with none having ceased trading since records began.

By the end of 2019 there were nearly 120 community pubs trading across the UK – with 19 opening in the previous year alone. Meanwhile 12 new community owned and run shops started trading – bringing the national total to over 370.

Around £3.7 million was raised by 19 newly opened community pubs in 2019. The survival rate of community shops is 92.5%, compared with an estimated long term survival rate for all small UK businesses of 44.1% (Source: Office for National Statistics).

Community Pubs – A Better form of Business 2020

In 2019:

  • The number of new enquiries to Plunkett from communities exploring community pub ownership is 154
  • The average cost of purchasing a community pub during 2019 was £306,000 and the average set-up cost was £140,000 (but with wide variations)
  • Approximately 57% of capital required for the start-ups was sourced from community shares

Community Shops – A Better form of Business 2020

In 2019:

  • The total share capital raised from their communities by newly opening shops was £452,500 from over 2,000 new members
  • Community shops had an average £156,000 p.a. turnover, representing an estimated £58 million annual turnover for the sector
  • 202 community shops offer postal services
  • An estimated 225 full-time and 450 part-time staff were employed within the community shop sector
  • Averaging at around 20 volunteers per shop, the sector has a workforce of approximately 7,000 volunteers

Coronavirus response

Pubs: Covid-19 saw many restrictions across the hospitality sector, which came as a huge blow to community owned pubs. Despite this, the report into pubs observed that “plenty of entrepreneurial spirit was evident and was rewarded with community support”. Many pubs started takeaway schemes, delivery services and some developed shops. The lockdown led to new services including shops and home deliveries and an enhanced community role for some pubs. Government grants and the furloughing scheme were extremely useful to cover staff and core costs. The report also notes that community pubs are often in smaller buildings making social distancing and table service awkward, and “it remains to be seen” how smaller pubs will fare once the dark evenings of winter arrive and outdoor seating is no longer an option.

Shops: Community shops meanwhile saw sales soar as people shopped more locally. The report observes that “community spirit has been strengthened”, volunteer support has grown, and new local supply chains have been established. Communities have been reminded why they needed their local shop in the first place.

You can read Plunkett CEO James Alcock’s Better Business blog here. Plunkett will also be hosting a virtual ‘In Conversation’ event on Tuesday 10th November, during which the key facts and figures emerging from the 2020 Better Business Reports will be discussed followed by a Q&A session with James and the reports’ authors. More info on the event here.

Read the full reports here and join us in celebrating the good health of this vibrant sector even in these difficult and challenging times.