In this age of conglomerates, acquisitions, mergers and the growth of branded food and drink what is the value of a truly independent business, asks Francis Patton.
In my view, there are a number of things that independent businesses such as pubs and restaurants bring to their local community. Each one is different and part of their appeal is that you won’t find another like it on every high street.
Firstly, they tend to put their money where their mouths are, spending with other local independent businesses in the town – from shops to suppliers, window cleaners to accountants and all things in-between. They do this because supporting each other makes for a thriving local economy and the town a better place to live, work and visit.
Secondly, independent businesses create local jobs and put money back into the economy. Spending £10 with an independent pub means that up to £50 goes back into the local economy by the money circulating round and round, which creates prosperity and more jobs.
The beer and pub sector supports a staggering 900,000 jobs in the UK, according to the BBPA, with one single job in brewing creating one in agriculture, one in the supply chain, one in general retail and 18 jobs in the pub sector, so it’s clear other industries benefit and thrive. Breweries and pubs mainly employee local people, with two thirds living within a five-mile radius of their place of work.
Thirdly, local independent businesses pay fair taxes (although perhaps not after the recent business rates increases!) which means that they support the health service, schools and investment in local services. They also support local charities through various fundraising activities.
Fourthly, they aim to build long-standing relationships with customers and get to know what they like. They want people to love their businesses so that they will tell others and help grow further relationships.
All of that said, whilst we have seen a rise in the number of local independent breweries we have also seen over 10,000 pubs close in the last 15 years – many of these have been local pubs and key parts of their community.
What’s important is that, big or small, chain or independent, these businesses need to provide a great offer and service to customers along with having authentic and credible values.
So, the next time you go out to eat or drink think about those local businesses. Search out a truly independent local pub or restaurant, ask them what local beers they sell and if they use local produce.
If it’s a great experience spread the word through social media because our local independent businesses deserve our support.
Francis Patton is one of the founding directors of Fleet Street Communications