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Cheap booze culture drove us out of town; BOSS HITS OUT AFTER BAR SHUTS.

Byline: OWEN HUGHES

THE boss of the Fat Cat bar chain has blamed Wrexham's "cheap booze culture" for the closure of their venue in the town this week.

Fat Cat, which has successful bars in 10 other towns and cities across North Wales and England, opened its bar in Wrexham 10 years ago.

But the gastro pub, which employed 10 staff, shut suddenly on Tuesday a Yesterday the chain's managing director Matt Saunders spoke out about the closure - blaming the desire for cheap booze in the town. Other bars have responded saying that drinking places do not have to be cheap to survive in Wrexham.

Mr Saunders said: "It (the closure) was not our decision, it was Wrexham's.

If a bar is busy it will stay open, if it is not then it will close - and that was the case here.

"In Wrexham there is a cheap booze culture and if you don't discount you don't do well. We have some discounts but we don't have stupid deals.

"We had been successful in Bangor, Llandudno, Chester and other towns and cities in England and thought the same would happen in Wrexham, but it was not to be.

"It is a shame because the building is one of the finest we have and we have invested PS500,000 into it.

He added: "In hindsight, we should never have pitched up in Wrexham. This has never happened in any other place. In Wrexham they want cheap booze and that is their prerogative."

Fat Cat first set up in Bangor 21 years ago and the chain has since spread across the region and to England.

Some staff at Wrexham will be relocated to other branches while around five will be made redundant.

Responding to the comments Alex Jones, manager at the Bank Wine Bar, said that pubs did not need to be cheap to do well in Wrexham.

He said: "We are not a cheap venue but we are still here. We don't offer discounts either. I think the comments are unfair.

"I would agree that people are shopping around when looking at where to drink because money is tight at the moment but that does not mean people always go for the cheapest option.

"It is about people believing they are getting value for money. People don't mind paying a little more when they know they are getting a quality drink in a good atmosphere and with good service."

He added: "I think there are other reasons why bars, even chains like Fat Cat, are struggling here and that is the high business rates, duty increases and also because people are spending less on leisure.

"It is not like petrol where even when the price goes up people have to buy fuel, people can choose not to have drink if they want to cut back and the whole leisure industry is suffering, it is a hard business environment and even Fat Cat are not immune. The location of Fat Cat near the bus stop in Wrexham was not ideal either."

Another bar manager, who did not want to be named, said the comments were "very unfair" and that Wrexham had a range of pubs for all budgets.

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Last orders: Fat Cat in Wrexham shut on Tuesday

Fat Cat MD Matt Saunders: 'In Wrexham if you don't discount you don't do well'
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 28, 2013
Words:561
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