Hundreds of jobs in the hospitality industry have been lost in Tayside and Fife over the past two decades as the number of licensed premises plummets.
There are an estimated 140 fewer pubs across the region today compared to 2001, according to a new report published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The report, ‘Economies of ale: small pubs close as chains focus on big bars’ does say bigger chain bars have “soaked up the custom” from smaller ones that have closed, resulting in greater overall turnover for the industry.
In Dundee, there are around 100 pubs now — an estimated 35 fewer compared to 2001.
The statistics show despite the UK average number of licensed trade jobs increasing over the past 18 years, the city has lost around 250 jobs in the industry.
Just 1000 employees are now working in pubs and bars.
Public house professionals in Fife have fared just as badly with a drop of around 250 over the same period.
There are 5.2 pubs per 10,000 people, lower than the national average and there are 60 fewer pubs than there were 18 years ago.
In Perth the figures are similar.
There are 25 fewer pubs in the Fair City and surrounding local authority area since 2001.
Only 600 people are employed in the licensed trade in Perth, a drop of 14.3%.
Angus has 20 fewer bars and 100 fewer employees.
Licensing consultant Janet Hood, who represents many of Dundee’s licensed premises, said local businesses need more help.
She said: “I think there is a peculiar preference towards outsiders here in Dundee.
“We should be looking at encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the local area.
“We want them to expand and thrive and add to the city’s flavour and personality. That’s very important for a city to be successful.”
She added: “There are other issues why pubs are struggling such as the unconscionably high amounts pubs are being asked to pay in business rates.”
Ms Hood did, however, praise the local licensing board for its decision to exclude on-sales premises from its new policy targeting a perceived over-provision of alcohol.
Craig Cunningham, retail, marketing and events manager at Dundee’s 71 Brewing, which opened a hugely successful brewery and taproom on Bellfield Street several years ago, said popular pubs “move with the times” and offer more variety.
He said: “I think it can be a struggle for any small pub to operate no matter where they are.
“In my mind I tend to think these are ones that don’t move with the times and offer a bit more of variety to the customer, whether that is from beers, wines or spirits.
“We do well with a lot of the independents in Dundee. They tend to offer the customer something a bit different, along with having incredibly well-trained, friendly staff.”
The ONS also says since 2008, nearly a quarter of pubs in the UK have closed – but that overall employment is on the rise and the turnover of the pub industry is holding up.