Dundee bar bosses have been urged to serve up what the punters want – or face more closures.
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) issued the warning as it revealed as many as three bars a week are closing in Scotland every week.
Industry experts said offering a more varied choice – including food, a range of beers and more activities for people to do – could help slow the rate at which licensed premises are closing.
The SLTA noted people drinking at home was also a big factor in the rate of pub closures.
David Glass, president of Dundee Licensed Trade Association and owner of Doc Ferry’s bar, said despite the warning, publicans in the city were striving to ensure they were offering the best to their customers.
He said: “I think all pubs have got to move with the times and be adaptable. However, it is the case certain pubs and certain things won’t go together and traders have to be mindful of what the market is around them.
“We have a food offering which is along the soup and toasties line. We are limited space-wise as to what we can offer. The pubs in Broughty Ferry have their own niche and traders are doing well but Dundee as a whole seems very positive – there are a lot of new places opening.
“There are still some horror stories about premises having difficulties but that could happen anywhere in the UK.
“There is a different demographic coming into the pubs now and I think supermarket pricing still plays its part in consumers’ habits.
“It is our job to try to offer something different to that.”
Local pub owner Paul Russell, who runs the Bank Bar on Union Street, echoed David’s comments, adding: “There are still ways and means of making the pub an attractive offer for folks.
“Giving good customer service, offering live music and good homemade food are certainly ways to combat people staying in and buying from the supermarket.
“When you hear three bars are closing a week I think a lot of that boils down to the tax on alcohol. The price of beer in a pub is the equivalent of four cans of lager from the supermarket.
“I would say things are positive at the moment as a local trader and I agree with David that publicans do need to adapt and put the work in as we need to give people a reason for coming out.”
On Saturday the City of Discovery played host to the annual conference of the Campaign for Real Ale for the first time. Beer-lovers descended on the Caird Hall and a number of city bars, with the event expected to plough tens of thousands of pounds into the local economy.
An SLTA spokesman said: “The revolution is on just now.
“Those publicans who provide what people are looking for, which is food and craft beers, will continue to survive.
“It is a really significant change and so if you cannot change then you will struggle. It’s as simple as that.
“There are a lot of factors which have hit the trade.
“The new drink-driving laws in Scotland hit a lot of pubs in rural areas very hard.
“People just don’t drive to them in lots of rural locations throughout the country.
“It’s a shame because a lot of people used to like having a glass of wine or beer with their Sunday meal.
“But that option is not on for them now and so the rural pubs have suffered as a consequence.
“Supermarket pricing has been a long-term hammer blow.
“The market has been manipulated by the supermarkets.
“But it has led to people drinking at home and in larger measures than pubs and that’s another issue for the politicians to address.
“It will eventually settle down in the pub game, but unfortunately by then a lot of good publicans will have suffered too much.
“Basically, the market will have left them rather than them leaving the market.”