Jeremy Clarkson is brilliantly ignoring Gen Z and supporting British pubs - Kelvin Mackenzie

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson
Kelvin Mackenzie

By Kelvin Mackenzie

Published: 02/07/2024

- 15:44

Kelvin Mackenzie is the former editor of the Sun

Jeremy Clarkson is a great man. How he runs a 1,000-acre farm, makes a hit series for Amazon, puts new life into ITV’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire, writes columns for The Sun and the Sunday Times plus has enough time left for his family and to consume every other bottle of rose shipped from Provence is quite beyond me.

And now, to top it all, he has bought a pub called The Windmill in Burford, Oxfordshire. He used his Sunday Times column to reveal he had coughed up under a £1million for the place and wants to use his farm’s produce in all the food and sell Hawkstone beer- of which he a shareholder- to the diners.

So, he is buttering his toast on both sides. Brilliant.

I have no doubt it will be a big success. As with most things in his life he is doing the opposite of what convention would tell you. As he wrote in his column 1,000 pubs a year are closing down and the latest research on the drinking habits of the young aren’t helpful either.Incredibly, 36% of Gen Z (that’s 18-25s) no longer drink, up from 24% a couple of years ago. The reasons are complicated. The main one appears to be that this generation don’t fancy photos of themselves being drunk popping up on social media.

Good point, but I suspect another reason is that when you are drunk you simply won’t be able to operate your smartphone which as every parent knows is the be all and end all of life.

Of course, Clarkson knows the Gen Zs are not his market. That market is Generation X (born 1965-1980) and Baby Boomers (1946-1964) where over 60% still like a drink and going down the pub.

Since the Millenium the number of pubs in the UK has dropped from by a quarter, from 60,800 to 45,800. Another massive problem is finding staff and holding on to them. The old days of a barman or barwoman serving you for years on end is long gone. If it’s the same person pulling the pint four months later they will be wearing a long service medal.

The big pub chains are doing just fine. All are announcing record profits and one group, which owns the Slug and Lettuce chain, is to introduce dynamic pricing based on demand. Clarkson is far too clever to introduce that in the Cotswolds – especially, unlike private equity, he lives in the community.

There are two very good reason why The Windmill will work. Both are due to the pub being owned by Clarkson. The first he that turning the pub from what it is today to a roaring success is natural fodder for television.

So, expect the next Amazon series to include the transformation of The Windmill with all the battles with the council, all the problems of refurbing the place and all the issues with hiring and firing. Compelling TV.

Then there is Clarkson’s personality as an attraction. Being famous has ups and downs. The ups are it is easier to raise money, the downs are if you become involved in domestic issues then painfully it all ends up on the front pages.

I share Clarkson’s view of the Labour leader. He once said he would rather vote for his dog than Starmer. Starmer plans to introduce new ‘’worker’’ rights which means that from Day One an employee will be considered a full-time hire.

So no longer will that useless, idle colleague be on probation and therefore more difficult to move on after three months. Quite why that is being introduced for small business like The Windmill is beyond me.

Perhaps Unilever or Shell can cope with the chaos that is going to cause but if you are smallish pub in the country (still needing a 70-strong workforce) why do you have to put up with the certain aggro that is going to cause.

The other day I read about a woman who went to an employment tribunal case complaining she had received a birthday card from her boss when she had specifically asked she was not sent one. She won the case and the size of her payout will be announced later. Quite bloody mad.

What will be great about The Windmill is that Clarkson will use his fame to shine a light on the nightmare of running a small business.

And I’ll drink to that.

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