Neverspoons app surges in popularity as people look for independent pubs after lockdown

Adam Smith
·4-min read

An app that directs users to independent pubs rather than the bar chain Wetherspoons has boomed in popularity.

The app has been downloaded close to 18,000 times in the first week of its existence.

The details of approximately 2,500 pubs have been uploaded to the app, with nearly 1000 recommended by users and landlords.

Developer Shane Jones told the Independent that a “pretty big update tomorrow” will bring thousands more.

He has been working on the app “over a couple of weeks” alongside friend and digital marketing consultant Ned Poulter.

A single user recommended 50 pubs in Birmingham, he told the BBC.

London has the most recommended pubs because of the high number of Wetherspoons pubs nearby, Jones also said.

Neverspoons is available on the Google Play Store, with an iOS version currently being developed.

Jones said he would continue working on the app in August, after it was rejected from Apple’s store for “not being Apple enough”.

“If your app is not particularly useful, unique, or “app-like,” it doesn’t belong on the App Store,” reads Apple’s developer guidelines.

“We’ve had some feedback and the Apple version needs more features and a design overhaul”, Jones said. “All of these features when completed will be coming over into the Android version too.”

Despite the app’s name, Jones says it is “steering clear of anything political.”

“All we’re concerned about is getting customers into the smaller pubs that will be struggling post lockdown.”

"There are too many of these former pubs in amazing buildings, now derelict, that used to be the central hub for a lot of communities," Jones told the Metro.

"If you can put some money in the till of a smaller independent pub through the use of this app, then it’s done the job I intended it to."

Wetherspoons CEO, Tim Martin, has been criticised for controversial comments during the coronavirus pandemic.

These include stating that the “virus doesn’t spread in pubs” in a bid to keep them open during the pandemic.

He also indicated that his company would not continue to pay employees who were now not working after pubs in the UK were closed to stop the spread of Covid-19, saying they should work at Tesco instead.

Despite Wetherspoons £1.8bn turnover, Martin said that while the government will pay 80 per cent of the wages of staff at companies who have lost work during the crisis, made no suggestion that Wetherspoons itself would cover the cost in the meantime.

While other companies, such as Costa, said it would continue to pay full wages for eight weeks, Martin suggested staff would receive no more than what the government allocated.

Wetherspoons declined to comment to The Independent.

Jones says the app has earned over £200 so far, but is “more than happy with this for a small side project.”

He also said that the Neverspoons data was built off the back of a larger project, but that he did not want to “give away too much at the moment”.

“I think we’re sticking with making things for the hospitality industry.”

“It's been really great to see the reception this has had,” Poulter added.

“Shane and I have both worked in the digital marketing [and] web development industry for some 10+ years, being able to turn our hand to supporting the notion of supporting local businesses is the least we can do, especially in times like these.”

Update, 21 August 2020

A representative of Wetherspoons contacted us following publication of this article to say that at no time did Mr Martin tell employees that Wetherspoons would not continue to pay them. It is accepted that all staff were paid by Wetherspoons up until the point of pub closures, after which staff received furlough pay.

In addition, we are happy to clarify that Mr Martin did not direct staff that they “should work at Tesco instead”. The actual words Mr Martin used to staff were: “We’ve had lots of calls from supermarkets, Tesco alone want 20,000 people to join them, that’s half the number of people who work in our pubs... If you’re offered a job in a supermarket many of you will want to do that, if you think it’s a good idea to do it, I can completely understand it.”

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