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Pubs close in economic downturn

22 April 08 14:16 GMT

London pubs are closing at the rate of one almost every other day, according to the brewing industry.

Figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) show 78 of London's 3,879 urban pubs closed in the last six months of 2007.

It blamed a combination of factors including the credit crunch, the smoking ban and rising alcohol costs.

A BBPA spokesman called for "fair" taxes from the government and urged people to support their local pubs.

The figures showed that one in 50 London pubs closed between July and December 2007.

'Rapidly rising costs'

The BBPA said a combination of "economic challenges" were impacting on the industry.

They included "rapidly rising costs... energy bills and rising costs of alcohol duty" plus the impact of last July's smoking ban.

"All these things are different challenges that all happened at the same time," the BBPA spokesman said.

"We have been warning for some time that pubs would close and that is what is now happening."

He said that, in order to turn their fortunes around, pubs needed a "fair deal" from the government and for the community to support their local pub.

In the six months after the smoking ban was introduced, pub group JD Wetherspoon's profits dropped 13% to £28.5m.

Last month the government announced a further 4p would be added to the price of a pint by the end of the year.

Analyst Richard Perks, from Mintel, said pubs were under increasing pressure and had to work much harder to survive.

"You have got to work so hard these days if you are going to be a pub and you have to provide lots of reasons for people to come to you," he said.

"You have got to be a community centre... provide food and entertainment. It's much, much tougher."

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