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Coming down the social hub? VFI plans to take pubs into the future

Publicans nationwide need to turn their bars into “event driven social locations”, as well as embracing Facebook and Twitter, according to Vintners Federation Ireland.

File photo of a pub in Dingle, Co Kerry
File photo of a pub in Dingle, Co Kerry
Image: Pretty/Ugly Design via Flickr

THE VINTNERS FEDERATION Ireland has announced a campaign to help the fortunes of Irish pubs by turning them into a new kind of “social hub”.

Pub business has declined steadily over the past three years, according to the VFI. It is now urging traditional bars to boost trade by turning themselves into “event driven” locations with a range of offerings, and using Facebook and Twitter to bring in new customers.

Vintners Federation CEO Padraig Cribben told TheJournal.ie that publicans need to broaden their appeal, adding: “They have to give people a good reason to come back with social events.

There are the traditional ones like quiz nights and talent nights. But there is also everything from book clubs, to cinema clubs, to fashion nights, to theme nights.

Mr Cribben also said that pub and bar owners will have to engage with social networking sites. “The new generation of communication revolves around Facebook and Twitter and so on, and they are platforms that the publican will have to use,” he said. A document released after the organisation’s AGM last month calls for pubs to go beyond being places to drink and become “social hubs”.

Last month the VFI, which represents licensed premises outside Dublin, released figures stating that bar sales fell by 10.5 per cent in 2010, and by another 7.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2011. The document stated: “The real opposition today is not the other publican but the home, the supermarket, the gym, the cinema and any other place the leisure euro can be spent.”

However, Mr Cribben added that he “believes passionately” the business will recover, saying: “The old reliables – good service, quality and value – will always come to the fore.”

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Michael Freeman

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