Pub sector businesses are facing a bloodbath of closures, warn bosses.

Pub sector businesses are facing a bloodbath of closures, warn bosses.

Britain’s boozers are facing an unprecedented crisis, pub industry bosses have warned, as new data shows a staggering 21 pubs are forced to close each week of the last year.

Energy bills have pushed many to the brink and beyond – in one recently reported case a single pub was charged almost £2100 for just 10 days of business – meaning more than 1,000 venues threw in the towel in 2023.

According to Dave Hayward, part of the Campaign for Real Ale and co-founder of craft beer supplier A Hoppy Place. “The industry has months left. After that we are going to see and absolute bloodbath”.

London has reportedly suffered the most with 98 pubs shutting, but the situation looks close to contagion with Hayward estimating that some 6,000 smaller, independent venues – those with “significantly less cash reserves” are close to following suit.

“The biggest operators will have the cash reserves, but lots of family-owned free houses, the very best community pubs, heart and souls of towns and villages up and down the country will be the ones that fail” he added.

Even Jamie Oliver’s The Cock, his former establishment in Essex, was forced to close last year due to the untenable circumstances, putting paid to the notion that invocation, gentrification, or even mega-celeb backing, can be called upon to override the simple economics.

Scale has not so far managed to absorb costs either; Wetherspoons is selling almost 50 pubs this year, and Marston’s Brewery is disposing of 61 sites.

So many of our community pubs and clubs are feeling the affects of not only obscene gas and electric price rises but they were also one of the worst hit with the forced closure due to Covid. So many pubs and clubs are important assets to our local community’s and once they go quite often never reopen! Having the latest digital fruit machines in pubs and clubs minimize electric costs and have proved to increase revenue, helping many of our customers keep making profit during these hard times.

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King Charles III likeness to start appearing on UK money

King Charles III likeness to start appearing on UK money

King Charles III’s likeness will start appearing on UK money in the UK immediately, although there is no rush to call in any tender with Queen Elizabeth II’s face, which will remain valid.

There is a wealth of precedent to suggest that this may persist for quite some time. According to the Royal Mint coins with Queen Victoria’s likeness from the 1860s were still in use until 1971 when the UK’s currency system was updated.

In terms of paper money, however, there is less comparison to draw from. “Although bank notes began to be issued from the late seventeenth century, they did not come to pre-dominate over coins until the nineteenth century,” Buckingham Palace says. “Only since 1960 has the British Sovereign been featured on English Bank notes, giving the Queen a unique distinction above previous monarchs.”

Coins have been marked with the image of rulers since the first empires in ancient times. The Royal Household at Buckingham Palace reckons English kings began putting their names on coins as far back as the year 800. King Athelstan, who died in 939, became the first English monarch whose image was shown on coins.

“For many people, the king’s image on coins was the only likeness of the monarch which they were likely to see in the lifetimes,” the Royal Household added.

We will be updating all our coin and note acceptors on fruit machines, jukeboxes and pool tables in pubs and clubs to take the new update money so your customers can carry on playing with no fuss. We had to do the same updates when we switched over to polymer notes only a few years ago.

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Pubs must “adapt to survive” in harsh trading conditions

Pubs must “adapt to survive” in harsh trading conditions

A report in the academic journal The Conversation outlined the significant role pubs play in their communities and the cluster of challenges they now face.

“Hospitality industry bodies warn more than one third of the sector is at risk of failure in early 2023 due to the rising cost of doing business” stated the report. “After surviving COVID (many of them barely,) UK hospitality businesses are now facing soaring energy bills.”

“Food and drinks businesses are also dealing with difficulties finding staff and an unstable political environment that is not prioritising small business support.”

With the cost of living crisis already impacting the spending power of customers during the financially crucial festive period, pubs have warned that the added ramifications of planned train strikes could cost £1.5bn in Christmas sales.

Add on top the rising cost of brewing the beer itself- due in part to the tenfold increase in the cost of carbon dioxide due to supply issues and concerns are high for the future of the pub industry, as well as the communities they support.

“When local pubs and breweries close it’s not just a pub that is lost, it’s often a community hub, particularly in rural areas where hospitality businesses might be the lone employers and are often a significant part of the local supply chains.”

“In Britain especially, losing a pub not to mention losses in the thriving beer and culture – can extinguish a part of the local heritage and culture, and a key element of the tourism and visitor economy.”

January is always a harder time for local pubs and social clubs, but this January is somewhat different! With the cost of living crisis, energy bills rising, staff shortages, and the general fear factor of people stopping them spending as much. The above article hits home that a local pub is so much more than just a drinking establishment! At Comrie we appreciate how important our local pubs and social clubs are to the local people.

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We are pleased to say that the purchase and integration of Auto Amusements in Cradley Heath is complete, and all gone well.

Just like ourselves, Auto Amusements has a 50-year history of supplying fruit machines, jukeboxes and pool tables to pubs and social clubs around Birmingham and the Black Country area.

We have known Mike for many years and when he decided to retire, he said “Comrie was his first phone call”.

Mike has been involved in the transition and is staying around for the next 12 months as he has many years of knowledge of the gaming industry, and we were keen to keep hold of this.

We wish Mike all the best in his winding down to retirement and thank him very much for deciding Comrie was his first and best option, to make sure all his customers were well looked after for years to come.

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Time to cash in old notes

Time to cash in old notes

A warning has been issued by the Bank of England to anyone with specific £20 or £50 cash paper notes in the UK.

People have been rushing to get notes changed because, from the 30th  September 2022, paper £20 and £50 notes will be redundant.

However, the soon to be redundant notes can be swapped for new polymer ones at the Bank of England, as well as high street banks and some Post Offices.

It has been stressed that there is no deadline to swap old notes for new ones, but it has been reported that consumers are still rushing to swap them.

The notes do not have to be swapped; people can also deposit them into their accounts.

Our fruit machines in pubs and clubs are currently accepting the new and old notes as they can still be banked. We will change this when the new notes with our new King’s picture come out.

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Why should you hire a fruit machine for a social club?

Why should you hire a fruit machine for a social club?

We are all familiar with pub fruit machines, but you might not realise that you can hire a fruit machine for a social club, members club, or any other kind of club for that matter.

Many people also don’t realise that because you only allow members onto your premises, the rules that apply to social club fruit machines are not so restrictive.

Because of this, and the other reasons below, hiring social club and members club fruit machines can be a great idea to keep guests entertained and bring in extra revenue.

Rules on social club fruit machines

You can have the following members club fruit machines on your premises:

  • One B3a fruit machine with jackpot up to £500
  • Up to three B4 fruit machines with jackpots up to £400

There’s a limit of three machines in total either way – so if you choose to install a category B3a fruit machine on your premises, it must substitute for one of your B4 fruit machines if you already have three of those.

Will there be an upfront cost to the club?

You might be surprised to learn that you can install a hired fruit machine in a social club at zero upfront cost.

Comrie Automatics have members club fruit machines to hire on profit share agreements – that means rather than paying a fixed rental fee for the machine, you share a percentage of any profit with us.

That means you should always come out in profit overall, and all of our hired fruit machines include ongoing maintenance and service calls as and when it is needed, again at no cost to you.

Do I pay VAT on takings?

There is no VAT on the takings from gaming machines – this was replaced in 2013 by Machine Games Duty, which must still be paid.

For clients on profit share agreements, you pay VAT to Comrie Automatics on our share of the profits; however, because most private clubs are VAT registered, you are able to reclaim the VAT paid on this portion.

Putting you in control

We believe in giving you control over how much money you make from your hired fruit machines – so we offer a free consultation to decide the best fruit machines for social clubs like yours, from the branding right through to the stakes and jackpot payout.

Our rental fruit machines are equipped with note feeders, allowing your members to stake using the new polymer banknotes and making sure they don’t take all the £1 coins from your till!




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Movement to ‘keep it cash’ gains momentum

Movement to ‘keep it cash’ gains momentum

A movement to ‘Keep it Cash’ has been touring the UK and engaging with the public in towns and cities on the need for businesses to accept payment in physical currency.

Its latest stop was in Haverford West, where more that 20 local supporters handed out leaflets and spoke with locals to raise awareness of the importance of keeping cash in use.

“Keep it Cash is a worldwide movement what has gathered momentum after many retail and hospitality outlets have been restricting the use of cash,” said a spokesperson for the movement. “The prevailing message of this campaign id freedom of choice and advice to ‘use it or lose it’”.

The group also warned of the programmable nature if digital currency, could give governments control of how people spend their money.

“Some MPs have expressed concern regarding the potential programmable nature of any future digital currency,” concluded the spokesperson. “This could give governments the option of controlling how people spend their money. For example, restrictions place ion travel in relation to governments’ ‘NetZero’ targets”.

Fruit machines in pubs currently can only accept cash to play due to UK laws, although this is currently being looked at by the government.

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Pub fruit machine hire Birmingham

Pub fruit machine hire Birmingham

Pub Fruit Machines are a great way to keep your customers entertained and earn extra profit while in your pub or social club. If you are located in or around Birmingham, Leicester or Coventry then Comrie can supply the latest fruit machines for your pub or social club.

Having the latest up to date digital fruit machines can be a  very excellent source of revenue. There are different categories of fruit machines available to rent/hire from us depending on your type of premises. There are different categories of fruit machines – B3A, B4 and category C are the most common ones we hire out to pubs and clubs. Category C machines are £100 fruit machines normally found in pubs and bars.

Category B3A and B4 fruit machines have higher jackpots and higher stakes (£2 or £1) but are only for social clubs. There are also Category D fruit machines which are 10p play and jackpot prizes of up to £5. These fruit machines are less popular now and more common in family amusement arcades.

Fruit machines can be hired on a profit share basis, where there is no rent payable and a more cost effective way for pubs and clubs to hire fruit machines. Also the machines are installed at no cost and there are no contacts or tie-ins at any time. A few very important things to establish before you go ahead with any company to supply fruit machines to your pub or social club –

  • Establish that they are Gaming Board registered, only companies who are registered with the Gaming Board of Great Britain can supply fruit machines and if a company is not they could cause you a lot of problems (With the law!)
  • Ensure you are getting the latest machines installed on your premises. The latest digital fruit machines are the machines that are by far the most popular with customers. They also have up to 30 different games on one machine.
  • Does the company offer a 7 days a week fast back up service to fix any problems? When you have a irate customer because the machine has not paid him a £100 win, you want to be able to speak with a real person and have a answer, when is the engineer coming out and it should always be the same day.


If you would like to talk more about the latest fruit machine hire for your pub or social club in Birmingham, Leicester or Coventry surrounding areas please call us for a chat. We are more than happy to pop and see you and go over things.


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BBPA calls for business rates reform

BBPA calls for business rates reform

The British Beer and Pub Association has called for business rates reform aiding pubs and brewers, in a submission to the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group Business Rates Inquiry.

Noting the sector generates £23bn in economics value and supports 900,000 jobs, the association highlighted the disproportionate amount percentage in rates pub are expected to pay.

“The current business rates system places disproportionate burden on pubs and brewers which is stifling their recovery and ability to return to sustainable growth,” said CEO Emma McClarkin. “Reform is needed to create a system which accounts for how the economy functions in the modern day”.

According to the BBPA, UK pubs pay more per pound turnover than any other sector with rate bills accounting for 2.5 percent of total business rates paid, despite only representing 0.5 percent of total rateable turnover – an over payment of £570m.

We are in such an unlevel playing field, Supermarkets and local shops who were doing a bomb all through Covid also benefited from zero rates during this period. Then add in that these same supermarkets use alcohol sales at virtually lost leaders to drive footfall in to their premises (We need minimum unit pricing for lots of reasons!). They have tripled profits at a time when family’s are struggling and pubs/social clubs which are community assets are being hit with high percentage rates bills, higher gas and electric bills and still hurting from being the businesses forced to close the longest during Covid. This is a very important time to make sure pubs and social clubs have the latest fruit machines, pool tables and jukeboxes to help them add additional extra income during these hard times.

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The Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant and ARG grant extension announced ….

The Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant and ARG grant extension announced ….

BACTA (Our trade organisation) has written to members advising on new Local Authority grant guidance for the leisure and hospitality sector as published by the government over the festive period.

The Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant and ARG Grant extension were announced by the Chancellor last month, with councils expected to oversee distribution this year.

“The (Omicron) grant eligibility is largely the same as previous grants to hospitality and leisure businesses,” said CEO John White. “Businesses with a rateable value of up to £15k but less than £51k will get £4,000. Businesses with a rateable value over £51k will get £6,000.”

Leisure businesses are defined as a business that provide opportunities, experiences, and facilities, in particular for culture, recreation, entertainment, celebratory events and days and nights out. Amusement arcades are listed as eligible businesses in the guidance.”

For the ARG, all funding must be dispersed by 31st March 2022, with businesses required to self-certify that they meet all eligibility criteria, for Local Authority’s to then verify.

Councils are specifically encouraged to provide funding for hospitality, and there is no restriction on the number of grants a business can receive. (Subject to subsidy limits)

However, the recent addition varies from previous tranches in that councils are prohibited from using funding for business support activities, meaning all funds must be allocated as grant payments.

Pubs and Social clubs have been one of the worst industry’s hit by the Covid situation and will have an impact for a long time to come for many landlords. We have been encouraging as many of our pub and club customers to make sure they get their claim in for this grant funding to help them with the badly affected Christmas that was brought on by panic and worry that in government started.

Now that we are over all the restrictions Comrie has been speaking to our pubs and social clubs about the latest fruit machines to help increase income and get us all back to the income before all this started.

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