Licensed and pub trade

We have a wide range of clients in the licensed trade from traditional public houses to upmarket restaurants and we have a thorough understanding of how, in this sector, cashflow is often your worst enemy.

The licensed trade

We offer affordable, professional accountancy services and business advice to the licensed trade.

As well as holding the appropriate accountancy qualifications, our advisers have in depth knowledge of the hospitality industry, many of them having worked within the industry at various levels.

Our fees are payable monthly and FIXED, avoiding any nasty surprises. Our clients receive the one monthly invoice, payable by direct debit and that covers all of the services we have agreed to provide.   We do not charge extra for advice and we are happy to visit you at your premises if that suits you better.

Freehold ownership

Certainly the ownership method with the most freedom, flexibility and with the potential to make the most profit, this route into pub ownership has arguably the greater requirement for sound professional advice.

Cashflow forecasts are vital in any type of business, but even more so with a freehold.  Using state of the art software or good old Excel, we can prepare a cashflow forecast in the format that lenders require, that also makes sense.

Your accounting requirements will be more complex with a freehold.  Capital allowance claims may be required, potentially on purchase, and our team of Chartered Tax Advisers can ensure that work is carried out in-house, rather than contracting the work out to an overpriced specialist.

A mortgage is likely to be required with a freehold arrangement.  We work closely with a very respected firm of mortgage brokers and we can help you make an application that stands the greatest chance of being accepted by a lender.

Pub tenancies

Pub tenancies are recognised as a cost-effective route into the pub sector, and one of the more convenient ways to own a pub business. It is also regarded as an ideal way for newcomers to dip their toes in the industry.

Tenants will not own the pub, instead they will be renting the premise off the pub landlord, such as a brewery or a Pub Company.

You will still be self-employed and responsible for registering with HMRC, setting up a PAYE scheme (if certain conditions are met) and registering for VAT at the appropriate time.

Self-employed business partners

Probably the cheapest route into running your own pub, as little as a £5000 deposit can set you on your way. The higher the turnover, the higher will be your earnings.  Nearly all expenses are covered by the Pub Company, with insurance, staffing and entertainment being the only expenses that you must cover from your earnings.

Our experience & knowledge in this niche will allow us to advise you quickly and effectively on issues such as:

  • When to register for VAT and on what VAT scheme
  • When a PAYE scheme become a legal requirement
  • Auto enrolment obligations and ongoing administration
  • The most tax efficient business structure for you
  • What expenses your business can claim against tax

Leasehold ownership

A lease or leasehold agreement means the licensee takes on the right to occupy the pub for a fixed term to run the pub as their own business. The agreement is usually ten years plus, meaning many licensees can develop their business plans for the medium and long-term offering more vision and stability than a tenancy. A lease can be created by a landlord such as a brewery or can be sold or assigned by another pub owner.

There is more responsibility than the self-employed business partner route but less than a freehold route.  Acquiring a lease is often the next steps after taking on a tenancy and is undoubtedly more expensive.

You are likely to be responsible for carrying our repairs and improvements to a property you do not own and it is important you work with an adviser that understands the complexities of capital allowances and lease accounting.

Rental expenditure is treated differently to mortgage or loan repayments for accounting purposes and we can ensure the correct accounting treatments are used.

Restaurants & takeaways

This is an industry that always appears to be on the watchlist with HMRC. They often investigate establishments with a view to:

  • Ascertaining that tips and gratuities are accounted for correctly
  • All income is declared, specifically cash takings

We can advise on an efficient TRONC system for tips and gratuities and ensure that you pass any HMRC inspection with flying colours.

We work with our clients to design a bookkeeping system that works for them and allows any HMRC inspection to occur without issue. We have clients that keep manual records and clients that prefer online packages such as Xero and QuickBooks.  You can be assured that we will either maintain your books at our offices or train you to do it. We are still available for technical support on an ongoing basis, and we do not charge extra for that.


Due to fluctuating wages, high turnover and volume of employees within hospitality, it is vital that your payroll service provider has the necessary experience to deal quickly and accurately with all of the changes that occur on a weekly or monthly basis.

Auto enrolment non-compliance penalties can run into the thousands and you need an experienced team that will not overlook their client’s auto enrolment obligations.

We are incredibly proud of our payroll team; they offer a friendly, speedy and accurate service and are well used to dealing with the very complex payroll requirements that some of our clients need.

More information on our payroll services can be found here.

Get in touch and find out more about our services to licensed trade businesses.

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