"As the recession prompts U.K. pub crawlers to drink at home more often, two of the country's biggest pub owners are selling or closing hundreds of locations to pay the tab from a decade-long expansion.The WSJ article goes on to describe how the drinking Brit is now buying his brew at Sainsbury's and getting potted at home rather than going out to what used to be the neighborhood social centre and doing it there. A study they cite indicates that "pubs sell 6.7 million fewer pints per day than they did 10 years ago," which is pretty dire as the population has grown substantially since then.
Punch Taverns PLC and Enterprise Inns PLC together own nearly a third of the U.K.'s 56,000 public houses. The two emerged as leaders of the pub industry by borrowing heavily when credit was cheap, snapping up thousands of the cherished British drinking halls, which have long served as both an extension of the living room and the social nexus of neighborhoods here."
As a footnote, the Bath Tap, pictured above, which happens to be an Enterprise property, was the sole LGBT-friendly pub in Bath when I visited last. It wasn't particularly exciting, but it was friendly and lively when I was there. It's sad to see it go.
UPDATE: it's curious that, just as these two firms are announcing sales and closures of existing pubs, Enterprise Inns is still touting its "Your Way Inn" franchise programme on its Website.