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Nightclub industry being crippled by licence fees and 'brown bag drinking'.

Twenty five per cent of nightclubs have closed in the last three years, with the loss of 600 jobs.

Nightclub openings are down 40 per cent, according to a new study
Nightclub openings are down 40 per cent, according to a new study
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A GROUP REPRESENTING the interests of nightclubs around the country says that a licence fee imposed by the government is crippling the industry and leading to job losses.

The Irish Nightclub Industry Association has commissed a report examining the impact of the €410 fee, which has risen from €200 since 2007. A club must pay the fee for every night it wants to stay open late.

The study has found that a quarter of Irish nightclubs have closed in the last three years, with the loss of 600 jobs. Barry O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of the INIA told TheJournal.ie that this actually represents about 2,500 job, when part time positions are taken into consideration.

O’ Sullivan says that a nightclub which wants to open late seven nights a week will pay around €150,000 in licence fees to do so, while a premises in the north or in the UK pays about £2,000 a year in late licence fees. He told TheJournal.ie that he knows of a nightclub owner who moved one mile over the border into the north in order to make a massive saving.

The report, compiled by Anthony Foley of DCU Business School, has found that a club with a turnover of €2,000 a night, paying out €410 in licence fees cannot make a profit, when the cost of running the nightclub is taken into consideration.

O’Sullivan also says that the number of people attending nightclubs is also down, and that:

Brown bag drinking is the new going out. People, for various reasons are drinking at home more and more, and even when they are going on a night out, they are ‘pre-loading’ at home.

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He says that people don’t realise how much it costs to run a nightclub and that cover charges and high drink prices are necessary for a business to break even. He says that if every company in Ireland had to pay the equivalent to the licence fee, then “everybody would be out of business”. O’Sullivan says that a chain like Tesco, which is allowed to sell low cost alcohol while paying just three euro a day in licence fees, is adding to the problem.

There is some good news though. The INIA says that there has been some positive feedback from the government on the issue of lowering the fee. O’Sullivan says that they seem to be “in the mood for positive change where it makes logical and economic sense”. It’s claimed that a reduction in the amount paid by nightclubs would not only sustain 2,000 jobs, but create an additional 300 positions.

About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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