The cost of utility bills is to blame for the sudden closure of the former Wetherspoon’s venue in Bodmin just over a year after it was sold by the pub chain giant.
Pub operator DND Group, which has operated the Chapel an Gansblydhen venue, formerly a Methodist church, since February 2023, says that the skyrocketing cost of utility bills has left it with no option.
The venue was suddenly closed on October 16, with a notice posted to its social media pages announcing simply “we are closed until further notice”.
However, David Bright, the managing director of DND Group, has revealed that the venue might not reopen at all, although he was working to find a solution.
He said: “There is a combination of factors leading to the closure of the Chapel, in particular the ongoing utility crisis, which means 35% of our revenue is being spent on keeping the lights on. 18 months ago this was between eight and nine percent.
“While the Chapel is a fabulous building, it is the case that the larger the venue, the bigger it is to heat, with costs of running it becoming exorbitant.
“Foot traffic (revenue from customers) is also not where we’d hope it to be but we knew it would have come with time, although with the costs of running the business sky-rocketing, it became impossible to keep it open.”
Mr Bright said that plans for the future of the venue were in flux with no final decision currently made on what will happen.
He continued: “We are looking at potentially selling the venue to someone else and we are trying not to walk away. But we have had to make difficult decisions as we have lost around £200,000 since taking over the venue.
“We had to make a decision quickly, see how far we were prepared to go but with no letting up of the cost of utilities we can’t be in negative balance.”
While admitting that the ongoing cost-of-living crisis had potentially led to the defeat of DND group’s attempts in trying to make the Chapel an Gansblydhen a viable venue again, Mr Bright added that it wasn’t through a lack of trying.
He said: “It wasn’t an easy decision (to close the venue). The board of the company urged us to make a decision three months ago and I tried, we kept trying new things alongside our staff, who were fabulous, and a lot of the locals who visited enjoyed themselves.
“But when the revenue isn’t there to justify the exorbitant expenses, there’s no business who would continue like it.”
Mr Bright was clear in who he blamed for the closure of Chapel An Gansblydhen. He was adamant that it wasn’t the staff, it wasn’t the customers but rather, it was what he perceived as greedy fat cat behaviour of the energy companies, who in his view had made record profits on the back of the ordinary person.
Aiming his fire at said practices, he said: “The blame lies with the utilty companies. It’s ludicrous that they’re making record profits and paying fat cats bonuses at a time where those revenues are coming on the back of ordinary people just trying to get by.
“I don’t think the cost-of-living crisis is a political thing, but when an energy company is making over £900 million profit then doesn’t pass any of that through to vendors in difficult times, I think we’ve got a serious problem.
“I’m not a rich person, I drive over 1500 miles a week in a Nissan Qashqai to support the venues we run and I am a hands on person who at this moment in time (of the interview) is in one of our northern pubs helping out as the chef is currently off.
“I am very much an every day person but the problem is when you’ve got utility companies charging what they’re charging, when they don’t have to do so, people have to ask serious questions on why they’re allowed to cause serious pain.”