NDML and Martin Murray at the BARBI Trade Show

The NDML team attended the BARBI Trade Show in Bristol. It was a fantastic event, featuring top distributors, independent businesses and key speakers.

We talked to Martin Murray, #savenightlife ambassador, who was speaking at the event about safeguarding and trends within the nightlife economy. We wanted to gauge his unfiltered thoughts as part of our new Nightlife Unscripted series.

Watch the video here:

NDML Talks To Martin Murray

“I’m from a small town in Staffordshire. I owned the UK’s longest running nightclub, Silks. If not for lockdown, I would have been open for 50 years. We opened 1972, missed our anniversary because of lockdown and restrictions, and could never reopen.”

When asked about their most recent experience of nightlife, they said:

“The last venue I went to was out in Wolverhampton. I went to see an 80s band, Heaven 17. Then we went out to some of the bars in Wolverhampton until about 3am. It was getting hard to find something open, we were chasing the venues, yet this was a Friday night. Wolverhampton was the night club party town in the sixties and again in the late eighties; it set the stage for nightclubs of the later years – and it’s a ghost town.”

When asked what they believe the trending theme of 2024 will be for nightlife, they said:

“2024 is not going to be a good year for hospitality, especially late-night venues. The ball is already rolling downwards and I don’t think a lot can help that right now. But much like any forest fire, the green shoots are showing. That new growth will bring a change. I remember once in the eighties, someone said: If you can tell me what the next trend ill give you a million pounds now. I think today that might be a hundred million because no one knows what it is. But it is changing.

People are tired of what we’ve had for the last twenty years – We need a new theme, we need a new scene – We need a revolution!”

When asked what they would do if they were made Prime Minister for a day, they said:

“We’ve got to save the venues that are still existing, and the only way we are going to save those is a cut in VAT straight away. We pay the highest tax for hospitality, the highest duty on beer than anywhere else in Europe. We are in the top 3-4 in the world for taxation and duty for hospitality and night life. If we loose anymore venues there will be nothing left. As quick as they are being closed down, they are being turned into housing. You can’t open a late night venue up next to housing, and we’ll lose them.

Cut VAT down to 10% for a year, then bring us up to 15%. Bring us in line with the rest of Europe at 10% for hospitality and that will save thousands, tens of thousands of jobs this year alone.”

They added:

“We need to change how we market late night venues. We need to show people where we are. There are too many hidden venues nowadays. You drive past them in the day time and you don’t even know they exist.

We need to show them off like we did in the eighties and nineties. They are big palaces, places for fun, entertainment and enjoyment. If we don’t know they’re there, how are people going to come? Light up your venues, show it off, make it sparkle – that’s my biggest advice.”

More From Nightlife Unscripted

Much needs to be done across the whole scope of the nightlife economy. Learn more about the other opinions and motivations from night time industry leaders here

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