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Britain’s pub trade needs quality not quantity, one of the country’s leading brewers declared this week. Speaking at a packed meeting of the Greater Manchester Family Business Association, William Lees-Jones, managing director of Middleton based brewery JW Lees, declared that the public and media should worry more about the quality of pubs rather than the quantity since it is not a numbers game.

“Many people have spoken about the number of pub closures and the ‘shocking’ fact we are down to 50,000 pubs in this country. I actually think we need to get that number down still further in some areas although no one should live in an area where there is no local pub. That way we can make our pubs a better experience by getting rid of the ones that don’t work.”

The Greater Manchester Family Business Association was launched last year by Stockport-based Gorvins Solicitors, accountancy and business advisory firm BDO and NatWest.

The aim of the association is to provide support and advice for family owned companies – from start-ups to those who have been operating for multiple generations.

In the case of JW Lees, the company was founded in 1828 by retired cotton manufacturer John Lees.

Mr Lees-Jones, who is the sixth generation of the family to work for the independent brewery business, told the capacity event, held at Manchester’s new 20 Stories restaurant, that being part of such a dynasty didn’t mean he automatically walked into a job as soon as he left university.

“There’s a rule that no one can go into the business until at least five years after they have finished their education” explained the father of four who enjoyed a successful career in advertising before joining the family firm and becoming managing director in 2003.

He also said that part of the success behind the longevity of JW Lees is that it has always invested in freehold properties and that this has meant that the business is rooted it the communities where JW lees does business.

Christian Mancier, a Partner in the Gorvins Corporate and Commercial Law department said that William Lees-Jones candid, personal and fascinating insights reinforces the important role of the Greater Manchester Family Business Association.

“The association brings together family businesses from across Greater Manchester and the surrounding area to support one another, share best practice and to help each other feel less isolated by realising the issues they may be facing are faced by other family businesses.”

Ian Bingham, partner in tax services at BDO, added that JW Lees had has continued to be successful because the company has never wavered from its core values. “This was an important reminder that it is vital to closely monitor developing market trends and remain agile enough to respond.”

For more information about the Greater Manchester Family Business Association or to attend a future event, please e-mail