The other night I had a quantity surveyor in for a drink. Nice chap. He apparently specialises in valuing pubs based on their fair maintainable trade. He recons that around one third of pubs do well as a result of the owners working hard. Another third do OK because the owners work hard and around a third are not viable even though the owners work really hard.
He does admit that an OK pub can be turned around with really good management and maximise potential, although it can easily drop back again with average people.
The most striking comment to me was the fact that there are simply too many pubs and a third are no longer going to achieve the fair maintainable trade that would be sufficient to make the pub viable. It is unfortunate and really a result of changing attitudes of the general public to the pub trade.