A pub chain is a group of pubs with the same brand image. In the UK pubs are either tenanted or managed. The tenant rents the pub for an agreed amount of time and then can leave at the end of the agreement if they wish to do so. The manager works for one of the big bar chains and simply runs a managed house
One of the largest chains is the Slug and Lettuce whose main office is based in Luton Bedfordshire. There are around 70 pubs in the South East of England and they tend to occupy big spaces such as ex banks and churches. They provide simple food such as burgers and curries, fair trade coffee and a wide selection of beers and spirits. The try and attract a youngish crowd with the decoration of their bars being minimal.
JD Weatherspoons is an even larger pub chain with over 950 pubs located across the UK. They also like to locate in large converted buildings and have a full food menu that runs late into the evening. They even open early in the morning to provide breakfasts for customers. They appeal to people looking for a traditional pub as their prices are cheap and give really good value for money. There is also a policy of no music, so it is a good place for people to chat or simply to enjoy reading whiles having a drink.
Many of their branches are in ex cinemas and theatres and are some are in listed buildings. The North Western is located in Liverpool on the site of the Ex North Western Hotel and is a grade 2 listed building. The pub now serves customers going to and from Liverpool’s Lime Street Railway Station.
A pub chain aimed at female customers is the pitcher and piano chain which is owned by Marstons. There are 18 bars located around the UK with many in listed bars. They are smartly decorated, but their prices do not offer the same value as Weatherspoons. The Taunton branch typifies their pubs. Situated in the ex-library, it has a unique feel to it as it is on split levels with furnishings including Chesterfield settees. The wide range of drinks include cocktails and accompanied by tasty bar snacks.
The largest tenanted pub companies include Punch Taverns which has around 1300 leased pubs in the UK and are the old Bass Beer Company which was bought out in 1997. Its pubs aren’t as large as the managed pub chains and they tend to be located in the original pub buildings. The beauty of them is that the tenant owners are able to impose their own individual style in them. They do not have to confirm as much as the managers of the larger chains have to in terms of design and layout. However, they do have to sell the beer that the company represents.
As pubs have hit hard times the relationship between the tenants has been questioned, with claims that the companies do little to support the small tenant. Recent years has seen many pubs closing but this is not always a disadvantage to customers. Pubs have had to look seriously at how they can get more customers into their bars. This has led to a better quality of building, a higher quality of furnishing, better food and still trying to keep prices competitive.
The stream lining of the trade has resulted in a better-quality product at the expense of the individual character that many pubs used to boast of.