PoundPub: A half pint will cost a quid at Stockton-on-Tees' new discount hostelry - but 12 pubs are still closing per week
Those who can recall the days when you could have three pints down the pub, a bag of chips on the way home and still have change from a fiver for the bus could be about to enjoy a return to the glory days.
PoundPub, a discount hostelry offering half a lager for a quid and a pint for the princely sum of £1.50 is set to open its doors building on the growing success of no-frills retailers.
News of the venture has angered alcohol awareness campaigners who claim that drink is already too cheap and readily available.
However, Mike Wardell, a director of pubco chain Here for Your Hospitality Ltd, which is about to rebrand its first two bars next month, said it was returning to the traditional concept of a pub not fuelling drunkenness.
The first will open on the site of an existing pub Georgia Browns in Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham under the slogan “more round for your pound”.
It will be followed by a pub in Atherton, Greater Manchester, where the discount pricing policy has been trialled in recent months leading to a transformation of its fortunes.
“We are a responsible retailer and there are licensing objectives there to prevent that happening which we have put at the forefront of our model,” said Mr Wardell.
“The idea is to bring people back into the pub and that is why George Osborne reduced the beer tax by a penny at the Budget,” he said.
“If it is a success – like Poundland – we will roll it out to other sites,” he added.
The average price of a pint in the North East where the first no frills pub will open is currently £3. The region has some of the worst rates of alcohol-related deaths and adults are more likely to drink heavily there than in other parts of England.
Alcohol campaigner Colin Shevells, director of Balance, said: "Drink is already too affordable, too available and too heavily promoted. We know that problems are caused by it being too cheap.
“The PoundPub is just part of a much bigger problem. We need to wake up to the problems cheap alcohol is causing both in the short and long term.”
It is estimated that around 12 pubs are driven out of business each week. One of the biggest factors is the ability of supermarket chains to sell cheap alcohol with some selling own brand products for as little as 40p a can.
Mr Wardell said the pubs would cut their overheads to reduce the cost of a pint. There would be no Sky Sports subscription and they would seek to attract moderate day time drinkers with a combination of traditional pub games and heavily discounted brands such as Fosters, John Smith’s, Strongbow and Theakston cask ales.
Non-alcoholic beers would be available for £1 a bottle as well as cheap soft drinks, he added.
Stockton borough councillor Phil Dennis, said he was worried about the impact of the venture on the redeveloped town centre.
"I have initial doubts and concerns about the ability of such a venue to control the environment where effectively we are selling at a point where the quality of clientele will likely match the price of the product on offer," he said.
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