What To Consider When Buying a Pub

Buying a pub can be incredibly exciting, but it also requires careful consideration and thorough research. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or a first-time buyer, understanding the key factors involved in acquiring a pub is crucial.

Do your research

Understand the industry

Before delving into the specifics of buying a pub, it’s essential to gain a solid understanding of the industry.

Understand the local pub market by studying the competition. Identify the types of pubs in the area, their target markets and their unique selling propositions; assess the demand for pubs in the location, demographic trends, and any potential untapped markets.

You also need to know about the target customer base for the pub. Understand their preferences, demographics and spending patterns. Analyse the existing customer base of the pub you intend to buy and determine if it aligns with your target market.

Check any relevant legal and regulatory requirements for running a pub in your planned area. This includes licensing requirements surrounding alcohol, food, music and other entertainment. Before you make any big decisions, identify any potential restrictions or limitations imposed by local authorities that may impact the pub’s operations.

As well as the above, it’s handy to follow industry publications and join relevant professional associations to understand emerging trends and consumer preferences. This knowledge will help you make strategic decisions.

Assess the pub’s potential

When investigating a pub, you need to look beyond its current state and envision its potential – consider the size, layout and overall condition of the premises. Assess the pub’s existing customer base and any potential for growth or diversification, and look for opportunities to introduce unique offerings, improve efficiency, and enhance the customer experience to maximise the pub’s potential.

You’ll also need to evaluate the location of the pub and its suitability for your target market; assess foot traffic, parking availability, public transport options and any future development plans in the area that may impact the business.

Assess the reputation of the pub within the local community. Look for online reviews, social media presence and customer feedback. Consider engaging in conversations with the current owner, staff or regular patrons to gain insights into the pub’s reputation, strengths and weaknesses.

Financial considerations

Owning a pub can be a profitable venture if managed effectively. However, profitability can vary significantly depending on several factors, including location, target market, competition, operating costs and the quality of offerings.

The financial investment required to buy a pub is often significant; you should explore various funding options, including personal savings, bank loans or partnerships. Prepare a solid business plan that outlines your vision, financial projections and potential return on investment to present to potential lenders or investors.

The financial elements in your business plan should be comprehensive and include the historical financial statements of the pub (if available), evaluate revenue sources (such as food, beverages and events), analyse the cost structure (including rent, utilities, staffing and inventory), and project potential revenues and expenses.

Due diligence and legal matters

Perform thorough due diligence before committing to a pub purchase. Review financial records, licenses, permits, and any outstanding legal issues. Engage a qualified attorney and an accountant specialising in hospitality to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Understand the terms of the lease or freehold agreement and evaluate any associated costs or restrictions.

How can Stewart Hindley help?

If you’re thinking about buying a pub, get in touch with a member of our skilled and experienced team who will help you find the ideal pub for you.

What Makes A Truly Great Pub?

Making a good pub great is something most, if not all, publicans aim for. While people will have slightly differing views of the perfect pub, everyone wants to feel comfortable and at-home when they visit a pub.

It should be a welcoming space

Creating a convivial environment is made up of a few different factors, from the hosts to the décor and the overall vibe, which all your customers contribute to.

Friendly staff led by a warm landlord/lady who has a great connection with the regulars, expertly serves their customers and can tell you where the closest cashpoint or best local Chinese takeaway is.

A pub’s décor, style, aesthetic, whatever you want to call it, has a big impact on how customers receive it. Ideally, a pub will be big enough so as not to feel overcrowded, but be broken out into cosy little niches. You want to make people feel like they’re relaxing in one of their friends’ living rooms, not like they’re in a bland expanse like a school hall.

Traditional wooden features, particularly beams and columns, help create a cosy, rustic vibe. Adding comfortable seats and good sturdy furniture help make people feel safe and centred.

Creating separate spaces

It should also be a tolerant space. Pub is short for public house and this means all are welcome, however, maintaining a good balance between alcohol-drinking adults and families with young children needs to be achieved.

Having distinct spaces on-site for each group can help this, such as not allowing children in the bar area, and clearly marking family areas so your more boisterous customers or those who may be having more mature conversations know to steer clear.

Good, homecooked food

Now, pub food does not need to be anything fancy – a pub is not a restaurant and it doesn’t need to be. Good pub fare needs to be hot, tasty and filling, with British pub classics including bangers & mash, fish & chips, roast dinners and all-day breakfasts. Pub food should also be at reasonable prices.

Your punters may not fancy a full meal but instead prefer a light snack to go with their drink of choice, such as crisps, peanuts or a sandwich. Having a variety of options means your customers will be able to choose something that suits their needs.


Of course, a pub should have a good range of quality drinks for your punters to choose from, so you can be sure there’s plenty to wet their whistle.

There are four main areas when it comes to pub drinks: beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks.

Beers are one of the first things that come to mind when we think of pubs, particularly traditional pubs where the bar staff literally pull the pints through the pipes with a great wooden handle. Draught beer generally covers ales and the various subcategories within (such as stouts, IPAs and brown ales) as well as lagers; you may also have cider on tap. A variety of beer taps, prominently displayed along your bar, will show your customers which beers you offer and which are in stock.

Wines are also a popular option for many adults and they expect a good selection when it comes to whites, rosés and reds, as well as sparkling varieties. Wine is generally served by the glass in measures of 125ml or 175ml (or multiples thereof, such as 250ml), or a group may order a bottle (or three!) to share, to save them heading to the bar after each glass. Prosecco, as a sparkling white wine, has enjoyed fantastic popularity in recent years, so it’s well worth keeping stocked up

After beer and wine come the spirits, including gin, vodka and rum, as well as brandy and whisky. There are many varieties within each subcategory, beyond the flavours and level of alcohol and into the detail of how the spirit may have been distilled or steeped, and many customers will have a favourite brand of spirit, so it’s well within your interest as the owner of the pub to offer a wide selection of spirits. This is particularly true of gins as their popularity, and indeed their range, has exploded in the last few years.

Soft drinks. More people are becoming conscious of the health effects of excessive alcohol consumption and are more likely to want a greater selection of soft drinks beyond juice and coke. Many alcoholic brands are now producing alcohol-free versions of their drinks that you can keep stocked behind the bar, and virgin cocktails are popular choices for designated drivers. Staples like J2O, Appletiser, Shloer and Fentiman’s provide a range of options for those who may not be drinking for any number of reasons.

Your staff should be able to tell your customers about each kind of drink, covering important details like their flavour and alcohol volume (ABV). You may even, for your more loyal regulars who have an unusual (or perhaps outdated) penchant, such as crème de menthe, choose to keep a bottle behind the bar for when they come in.

Being able to offer your customers the drinks they want and tell them about other drinks they may be interested in will help set your pub apart from other bars.

If you’re considering buying and running your own pub, get in touch with a member of our skilled and experienced team who are on hand to help you discover your dream pub.

How To Get A License To Sell Alcohol

Serving alcohol at your hotel, restaurant, B&B or pub is a great way to boost your revenue thanks to the high margins that come with alcohol, but you’ll need an alcohol licence to do so legally.

What are the different types of alcohol licences?

There are two types of alcohol licences: a premises licence and a personal licence.

A premises licence authorises a venue for licensable activities, including the sale of alcohol.

A personal licence permits somebody (typically a business owner or manager) to become a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS).

How to get a premises licence

You need to apply to your council for a premises license, and this can be done either by post or online, provided your local council accepts digital applications.

There are different online applications depending on where in the UK you are: England & Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The postal forms are available here and are the same across the UK.

The cost of your premises licence will vary based on the rateable value of your property (how much the property would rent for) and can cost from £100 to £1,905.

The premises must have a designated DPS when applying for a licence, and the DPS must hold a personal licence.

When applying for your premises licence, you will need to provide your council with details of you and the DPS as well as a detailed plan of the premises and an operating schedule (including details of when alcohol will be sold).

How to change a premises licence

If you need to change any details to your licence, you will need to apply for either a minor or full variation to your location council.

Minor variations cost £89 and cover small changes to the license, such as reducing the hours you sell alcohol, the removal of irrelevant conditions or the removal or addition of other licensable activities (such as playing live music or showing a film). You can begin the minor variations application process by downloading a form from the GOV.UK website.

Full variations cost the same as the original application for a premises licence and follow a very similar process. Full variations include extending the opening hours of your business, making major changes to the premises or the bar layout, selling alcohol between 11 pm and 7 am, or increasing the number of hours during which alcohol may be sold.

How to get a personal licence

You’ll need to gain a Personal License Qualification as part of the personal licence process; the qualification takes about a day and the assessment is done via a multiple-choice exam.

The personal licence itself costs £37 but you may also need to pay for a DBS check which costs £25.

You can apply for a personal licence through the GOV.UK website.

What is the Designated Premises Supervisor responsible for?

Being responsible for the premises means there are certain duties the DPS must take care of; the DPS is the first point of contact for the local council and the police

The DPS must ensure ID is provided where necessary. Most premises subscribe to the Challenge 25 policy where anyone who looks 25 or under needs to present an acceptable ID (driver’s licence or passport) that proves they are over 18.

The DPS is also responsible for the bar serving legal measures:

  • Wine: 125 ml, 175ml
  • Spirits: 25ml, 35ml
  • Draught beer and cider: full pint or half, third or two-thirds of a pint
  • Fortified wine: 50/70ml
  • And multiples thereof, e.g. a cocktail may include a double shot of a spirit, or a large glass of wine may be 250ml.

Jiggers and spirit measures make it easier to serve correct volumes.

What else do I need to know about alcohol licensing?

You must display your ‘license summary’ at your venue in a place where it can easily be seen. You should keep the other pages of your licence in a safe location at your premises; the council or police may inspect them at any point. Failure to provide your licence may result in a fine of up to £1,000.

Premises licences typically come with an unlimited duration, so you don’t need to reapply for them (unless you need to make variations). There is, however, an annual fee – find out more here.

Selling alcohol without a licence can lead to a fine of up to £20,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 6 months.

If you are thinking about opening a hotel, B&B, restaurant or pub, we can help with financing. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you start or grow your business.

How to Market Your Holiday Home

Whether you’re a first-time holiday home owner or you’re struggling to attract people to your guest house or B&B, effectively marketing your holiday home is vital.

And, with the travel industry starting to pick up again, it’s more important than ever before that you make marketing your holiday home a top priority.

Not sure where to start when it comes to marketing your holiday home? We’ve created a helpful guide outlining everything that you need to know.

5 ways to market your holiday home

1. Shout about how great your holiday home is!

The key to marketing your holiday home is to shout about your property’s USPs – what makes you different? Why should people book to stay with you over your competitors?

Whether your property has a garden that is perfect for outdoor dining, or it has lots of high ceilings, natural light and spaces for entertaining, make sure people know what makes it great.

2. Let your photos do the talking

They say that a photo speaks a thousand words and that is certainly the case when it comes to inspiring potential guests to book your property.

Investing in professional photography that portrays your holiday home in the best possible light is a great way to attract attention and increase bookings.

As well as using these images on your website and marketing materials, you can also share them widely on your social media platforms – trust us, they’ll be well worth their investment!

3. Social media

Social media is now one of the most powerful communication tools so you definitely shouldn’t overlook it when marketing your holiday home.

Think about where your target audience is spending time, and then set up your own accounts so you can reach them. Make sure you share engaging, relevant, and interesting content regularly and consistently. And remember, social media isn’t a one-way street – it’s all about building a community. Make sure that you respond to any comments or queries, and try to start conversations with your audience.

4. Reviews

Encourage guests to leave reviews on your holiday through social review sites such as TripAdvisor and Google My Business. They’re a great way for prospective guests to learn more about your property, and as reviews are great trust signals, they can help transform them from potential to paying guests.

5. Advertise using holiday rental portals and agencies

Holiday rental portals and agencies are a great way to advertise your property and optimise its booking potential.

More people than ever before are booking online, so advertising using holiday rental portals and agencies will allow you to not only expand your reach, but it will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to managing the booking process.

And remember, sites such as Airbnb and Holiday Cottages already have a huge amount of credibility, meaning people are more likely to book properties listed on these sites.

Where we come in

If you’re considering becoming a bed and breakfast host, get in touch with a member of our skilled and experienced team who is on hand to help you discover your dream B&B property.

How is coronavirus affecting the property market and loans?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on virtually all aspects of the UK economy, and it’s likely that the effects will be felt for months, or even years, to come.

And this includes the commercial property market.

What does it mean for the commercial property market?

During the initial lockdown back in March, the commercial property market was hit hard, with widespread lockdowns coming into force throughout the country. The vast majority of businesses were asked to shut their doors completely, or encourage their workforce to work from home, leaving many commercial buildings up and down the country, standing empty.

Data collected has already indicated that less than half of tenants paid their rent on time on June Quarter Day, meaning commercial property landlords only collected 38 percent of their rent.

The situation is still very unstable and the threat of a second wave of the virus, with the possibility of further regional lockdowns is very real. With this in mind, we anticipate prices and demand will fluctuate for at least the next few months as the market adjusts to the ongoing economic environment.

How have commercial property prices been affected?

There’s no denying that the retail and commercial property sector have been hit the hardest and this naturally has had an impact on commercial property prices. Experts predict that rent arrears will not only be an ongoing issue but the capital value of many commercial properties could also fall by as much as 20-30 percent.

Essentially, things are still very uncertain. However, for first time buyers in particular, this could mean there are some great deals to be found.

What does this mean for commercial mortgages?

Commercial mortgages have been a hot topic during the pandemic as they have been a great way to purchase property, or refinance a property that’s already owned. Many business owners are contacting commercial mortgage lenders for additional borrowing, for reasons such as:

  • Securing a better interest rate
  • Recouping funds
  • Reducing monthly costs
  • Gaining financial support
  • Taking advantage of the spike in the market

However, it’s important to be aware that, as within the residential property market, commercial lenders have become far more cautious as the UK heads towards another recession. With this in mind, if you are considering purchasing a commercial property during the pandemic, you can expect lower loan-to-values and more stringent affordability checks.

That said, there are still plenty of lenders out there to choose from.

If you’re looking to take your first steps on the commercial property market, or you’re planning on selling your property and looking to secure finance, we can help you find the best deals around.  Get in touch to discuss your property finance needs.

Bed & Breakfast Finance Going Forward

2020 is definitely going to be a year to remember. Life went from normal to “lockdown” overnight and hospitality businesses were closed down by the government. So does this mean that you won’t be able to buy a bed and breakfast or guest house in the future?

Of course not, what it does mean is that lenders will see the sector as a higher risk post Covid 19 and as a result loan to value ratios may change. Up until now the maximum loan a new to trade operator would have been able to secure on a bed and breakfast or guest house was 65% of the purchase price meaning you needed at least a 35% deposit plus funds to cover fees such as stamp duty, valuation etc. to be able to buy your dream property.

Going forward we are still to see how lending criteria will change but, having said that, Stewart Hindley & Partners have mainstream and specialist lenders who are still willing to lend on hospitality properties. We don’t know what society will look like after the Covid-19 pandemic has gone but one thing we do know is that many people will be looking to take more short breaks and staycations in the UK rather than travelling abroad.

Post Covid-19 could mean a boom period for bed and breakfast owners which would help them to recover from the sudden loss of their incomes and hopefully inject some confidence back into the sector.

If you are thinking about buying a bed and breakfast or guest house and need the best finance deal available to meet your circumstances speak to us here at Stewart Hindley & Partners as we are specialists in the hospitality sector and if we can’t help no one can!

Contact us today and you could have your own bed and breakfast.

CBILS Funding

CBILS Funding

Lenders are currently overwhelmed with applications and it may well take several weeks before the relevant lending manager gets to look at your case and then assess your application. At Stewart Hindley & Partners we have direct access to your local r lending or relationship managers. By using an FCA approved broker such as ourselves you can dramatically reduce the amount of time your application will take, get the best interest rate available given your circumstances and clarification of your situation in the immediate future.

Not every accredited lender can provide every type of finance available under CBILS, and the amount of finance offered varies between lenders. As “whole of market brokers” we have access to a wide range of lenders and will be able to find you a loan solution even if the prime lenders have declined to help.

Stewart Hindley & Partners will do all the work for you all you need to provide is the relevant supporting information.

The British Business Bank has a lot of information available to small businesses to help them access funds during this unprecedented time a summary of which is below.

The lender makes a decision

The lender, not the British Business Bank has the authority to decide whether to offer you finance.

Under the scheme, lenders will not take personal guarantees of any form for facilities below £250,000.

For facilities above £250,000, personal guarantees may still be required, at a lender’s discretion, but:

  • they exclude the Principal Private Residence (PPR), and
  • recoveries under these are capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied

 If the lender turns you down

If one lender turns you down, you can still approach other lenders within the scheme but this will be considered as “new to bank” and differing qualifying criteria may apply.

Access to the scheme has now been opened up to smaller businesses facing cashflow difficulties who previously would not have been eligible for CBILS because they met the requirements for a standard commercial facility.

You may therefore consider re-contacting your lender if you have previously been unsuccessful in securing funding.

Who is eligible

Your business must:

  • Be UK-based in its business activity
  • Have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million
  • Have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic
  • Self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

View the British Bank Quick Eligibility Checklist


Businesses from any sector can apply, except the following:

  • Banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • Public-sector bodies
  • Further-education establishments, if they are grant-funded
  • State-funded primary and secondary schools

View CBILS frequently asked questions for businesses


 What lenders will need from you

When you apply for a business loan, most lenders will ask you for the following:

Details of the loan

  • The amount you would like to borrow
  • What the money is for — the lender will check that it’s a suitable business purpose and the right type of finance for your needs
  • The period over which you will make the repayments — the lender will assess whether the loan is affordable for you

Supporting documents

You will need to provide certain evidence to show that you can afford to repay the loan. This is likely to include:

  • Management accounts
  • Cash flow forecast
  • Business plan
  • Historic accounts
  • Details of assets

The above requirements will vary from lender to lender. If you do not have everything listed here, a CBILS loan could still be an option to provide finance to support your business.

Note: For many customers approaching their existing lenders for a smaller facility, the process may be automated and therefore may not require the same level of documentation.

To learn more about lenders’ requirements, see the Better Business Finance lending application checklist.

Here’s the link – https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/BBF_factsheet_-_lending_application_checklist.pdf

Business Support Finance – COVID-19

Launched in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is designed to support UK businesses during this period of disruption. CBILS provides the lender with a Government backed guarantee of 80%, against finance offered under CBILS with the balance of risk being held by the lender.

CBILS is designed to assist with cash flow, initially by way of a Capital Repayment Holiday (Interest only period) of 12 months or a commercial loan over 6 years, with no repayments in the first 12 months followed by a 5-year loan facility on a full repayment basis.

CBILS will only be made available to businesses that were deemed “viable pre Covid 19” and as a consequence a “robust” case must be made for your new Capital Repayment Holiday or loan based on your pre Covid trading information.

It is important to note that if your financial and supporting information isn’t presented correctly to meet the lenders requirements, this could lead to a decline for support, which may impact on your existing loan covenants when considered against your lenders’ “prevailing” debt service criteria which may give your lender cause for concern post Covid 19.

During this period of uncertainty, we at Stewart Hindley & Partners are here to help you and have direct access to all the lenders’ that offer CBILS and who are accredited by the British Business Bank. https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/. If for any reason your business is not eligible for CBILS then we can provide other routes to finance to support your business.

Given the record levels of demand that banks are incurring for general advice and CBILS applications, we at Stewart Hindley & Partners are able to offer, on your behalf, support through our own FCA relationships with all CBILS accredited lenders.

As a result, we are able to deal with the relevant Business Relationship Manager directly, to ensure a prompt application, with the best possible outcome given your circumstances and thereby take away the uncertainty by securing a decision in-principle within 24 hours.

If you’d like to discuss how we can assist you with your CBILS application or any other funding requirement during these challenging times, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us either via completing the contact form or by calling us directly on 01488 684834.

Coronavirus – Business Help Available

As the coronavirus (COVID 19) continues to spread across the UK mortgage lenders have been taking special measures to ensure that borrowers are protected from financial shocks.

Most, if not all, lenders have put in place emergency funding to help existing SME businesses get through this period of uncertainty.

If you feel that your business may come under duress over the coming months, please speak to us now so we can assist you to put in place interest only periods or repayment holidays.

How Much Deposit Do I Need to Buy a Bed and Breakfast?

Opening a bed and breakfast (B&B) can be a great way to generate income while stepping back from the typical 9 to 5. It’s hard but rewarding work, and enables you to create a business that reflects your personality and passion as a hospitality business operator.

However, unless you live in a large property with a significant number of spare rooms, you will need to invest in a new property in order to set up a B&B business.

In most cases, that will mean taking out a mortgage. But what sort of mortgage will you need? And how much deposit will you be expected to pay when you buy your bed and breakfast?

As with any mortgage, different lenders will have different requirements when it comes to deposits for a B&B. The type of mortgage you will need will depend on a number of factors, including how much of the total space in the property will be used for commercial purposes.

Deposit for a commercial mortgage

In most cases, if you are using less than 40% of the property for personal use, you will require a commercial mortgage, or a semi-commercial mortgage.

Most commercial mortgages require a deposit of between 30% and 40%, depending on the level of risk they deem your business to come with and the type of commercial mortgage you have applied for.

Buying a B&B without a deposit

Whichever way you buy your B&B you will need a deposit.

If you don’t have a cash deposit for your bed and breakfast, you may be able to release equity from your existing property or another property to release the necessary funds for the purchase of the new B&B and Stewart Hindley can help with this.

If you’re considering buying a bed and breakfast, it’s important to speak to someone experienced in the hospitality finance sector to ensure that you are aware of all the funding options available to you. Get in touch to speak to one of our skilled and experienced team.