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Should You Buy a Pub? Here are 5 Things to Consider

Have you always dreamed of running a pub? Then ask yourself these five questions to see if you have what it takes.

Pubs have had a rough ride over the last couple of decades. Alongside dealing with obstacles like the pandemic, inflation and rising energy costs, competition has grown strong in the form of off-licences and coffee shops. 

But this should not deter those who want to buy a pub in the United Kingdom. While it will be hard work, pubs are a important part of British life, and most people love a pint at the end of the day!

This article will cover the following five things you need to consider before you buy your own pub:  

  • Is it the right time to buy a pub? 
  • Are you the right person to run a pub?
  • How does owning a pub work?
  • What licences do you need?
  • What type of pub should you buy?

1. Is it the right time to buy a pub?

Let's start with an honest analysis: disposable incomes are being squeezed, and the cost of living crises is being felt by most consumers across the UK. Buying into this sector at this time will pose significant challenges for new pub owners, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  

The pub sector recovered well after the pandemic, and opportunities to innovate offerings and attract and retain customers are abundant. 

Trends and attitudes are shifting in the pub industry, and there is potential to make the most of it if you have the energy, creativity, and drive. 

2. Are you the right person to run a pub?

We encourage you to have some experience of working in a bar or pub before buying one. After all, you’ll be competing with other pub owners who have a wealth of knowledge and experience.

The most important attributes you'll need to have are:

  • Highly organised
  • Very sociable and understand the importance of good customer service
  • Ability to follow and execute the latest trends in the industry
  • Willing to work long, unsociable hours

Remember, you will be providing a service, so while you may feel rundown, you’ll need to continue being upbeat and friendly to encourage repeat custom.

3. How does owning a pub work?

There are three main ways to run a pub: via a tenancy, leasehold or freehold.

Pub tenancy

If you decide to enter into a pub tenancy, you rent the pub for an agreed rent, usually on a three-year rolling contract, enabling a rent review every three years. This review would be agreed with the pub or brewery. If you wanted to exit, you would have to give notice.


In this instance, you would either purchase it from an outgoing leaseholder or brewery if it’s a new lease. If you wanted to leave, you can do so after two years as they’re usually non-assignable for the first two.

If you do decide to put the leasehold up for sale, and a purchaser is found, the pub or brewery must agree before the sale can go ahead.


There is much more freedom when purchasing a pub on a freehold basis. It gives you autonomy and flexibilty to run your pub - from the beer you put on tap to the colour you paint the walls. Buying a pub this way will also ensure that you receive a greater slice of the turnover.

However, it can be very difficult to buy a pub outright, as a freehold pub usually costs between two and three times more than its turnover.

You will also need around a third of the total price to purchase before any business financing is considered.

4. What licences do you need?

Even when purchasing an existing pub, you will need a personal licence to sell alcohol for consumption on your premises.

You can visit the UK Government website to understand more about premises licences and personal licences. 

All other legalities required should come up when you are undertaking your thorough due diligence of the pub you would like to buy.

5. What type of pub could I own?

The style, theme, and the products offered in your pub should largely match its local community. 

 For example, you probably wouldn't want to create a high-end themed pub in a working-class suburb.  

Market research within your area will offer clear insights into:

  • Who your clientele are - families, elderly, young couples, business owners or holidaymakers 
  • What types of pubs are in the area already?
  • What type of pub would they like to see in the area?
  • What’s the average price of a pint?

These are some of the things you'll need to consider before buying your new pub. We recommend reading our buying a business guide for a deeper understanding of what to expect when you buy an exisiting business. 

If you're looking for a way to financing the purchase of your new pub, you can read our helpful guide on loans to buy a business

Megan Kelly

About the author

Megan is Head of Content Marketing at She is a B2B Content Strategist and Copywriter. She has produced multiple articles that rank on the first page of Google SERPS, and loves creating people-first content.