Location Report: Isle of Bute

Andrew Dodd, Director of Sales at Bruce & Co, on Scotland’s hidden gem (article featured in Pub & Bar Magazine)

At Bruce & Co, we have a number of desirable properties available throughout Scotland and the islands. One island in particular that is attracting increasing buyer interest is the so called “golden postcode” Isle of Bute.

The Isle of Bute, meaning ‘fire’ or ‘beacon island’, is renowned for its stunning landscapes and benefits from being the most accessible of the westerly isles from the Scottish Central Belt. Over the last 10 years, Bute has undergone a major programme of regeneration, and as a result of the progress an ‘economic renaissance’ is predicted for the Isle. One of the biggest effects of this regeneration has been the bourgeoning of the property market.

Licensed and leisure is the mainstay of Bute’s economy and owning a pub on the Isle offers an attractive lifestyle opportunity for many. Pubs available to buy in Bute are generally an equal mix of freehold and leasehold opportunities: Leaseholds are currently more popular with our purchasing clients due to their being more affordable and accessible, particularly at a time where cash is still king, but interest in freehold opportunities is still present due to the stability they offer. Many of the pubs on the market are being sold due to retirement rather than because of a struggle against the economic downturn, which points to the longevity of a pub as both a lifestyle and business choice. In fact, a number of well performing, high quality businesses are available to buy on the island.

One of the major appeals of pubs, and indeed the reason that many have survived, is their position as an invaluable community asset. This is particularly true on the Isle of Bute, which has a close-knit community where pubs are often used as a meeting place and considered central to society. Pubs have also demonstrated their adaptability during difficult times and food-led pubs have flourished. The Isle of Bute has a limited number of restaurants meaning that pubs that offer food usually perform well on the isle.

Our research also shows that buying a pub Bute is a popular choice for people who take redundancies, early retirement and lifestyle changes. Not only do the lower cost leasehold opportunities often offer a fantastic return on investment, but the island’s accessibility (Bute is only 90 minutes from Glasgow and 2 hours from Edinburgh) means that it is well suited to husband and wife operators, where one partner undertakes the running of the pub and the other can commute to their city job.

We are finding that more and more buyers are having their imagination captured by the Isle of Bute and the lifestyle it can offer, and have identified a new generation of investors seeking opportunities on one of Scotland’s most picturesque isles.

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