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Traditional pubs are suffering an identity crisis, with more than a third of North West establishments struggling for survival, according to the insolvency trade body R3.

Figures produced by R3 show that 37% of pubs in the region – 729 businesses – are considered at higher than normal risk of failure over the next 12 months. The figures were compiled using credit ratings from Bureau van Dijk’s ‘Fame’ database.

According to Jeremy Oddie, a spokesman for R3 in the North West and head of recoveries at accountants Mitchell Charlesworth, the problems cannot be blamed solely on the economy but reflect wider challenges including increased competition, changing consumer habits and the effects of the smoking ban.

He said: “Consumers now have a wider choice and their tastes are more sophisticated. Pubs are facing competition from on trend bars and restaurants.

“In addition, the pub trade has never fully recovered from the smoking ban, with many smokers now preferring to drink at home instead. The falling price of alcohol in supermarkets has also been undermining the popularity of pubs.

“Ultimately pubs are struggling with an identity crisis. Traditionally they were a male domain, run by breweries and geared to serving pints. Pubs now have to cater for a much more diverse crowd with different expectations of what constitutes a ‘night out’. Female drinkers have become much more influential, and are often key decision-makers when choosing where to go. Younger men are also less attracted to traditional pubs.

“While some pubs have successfully broadened their appeal, in particular country pubs, many old-style drinking dens are struggling for survival. It may be that the traditional British pub has had its day – after all, pub culture does not exist in continental Europe. One thing is for sure – pubs need to reinvent themselves to appeal to a new generation of customers.”