Wetherspoons withdraw from Croydon (comment from our branch Chair)
Nine years ago the J D Wetherspoon’s chain had ten pubs in the London Borough of Croydon. With the recent closure of the Milan Bar, and the demise of the Skylark by the end of this month, the number will be reduced to only four. This has repercussions not only for the former loyal customers of each of the pubs, but also for the availability of beers from smaller local brewers. The number of outlets for cask beer in Croydon has obviously been reduced.
The Skylark in particular has been a regular entry in the Good Beer Guide, first appearing in 2006, and being included for the last 11 editions, demonstrating both the range and quality of the ales available. It also was one of the few Wetherspoon’s pubs to have an outside drinking area.
Wetherspoon’s pubs have acted as community meeting places, family restaurants and catered for the whole range of age groups over the years.
Only one of the Croydon closures has continued as a pub – South Norwood. The others are a mixture of supermarkets, gyms and empty properties. It remains to be seen how the Skylark and Milan Bar premises will be utilised. It can only be hoped that other operators may be interested, and that the Croydon plan will dictate that change of use is not granted before the leases are properly marketed.
None of these pubs in Croydon were historically pubs, but the presence of the chain may well have played a part in the closure of other outlets, unable to compete with the marketing power of the group.