Monday, September 15, 2014

The Railway Inn, Pleasington an Out of the Grips of the Tie Success Story

PUB OF THE WEEK: the Railway Inn, Pleasington
Article in Lancashire Telegraph by Mark Briggs (Real Ale Up North @realaleupnorth 

This former Enterprise pub was on its arse twelve months ago!
This article stimulated a discussion in the CAMRA (unoffical) facebook group which included a comment by Martyn Cornell, well known British pubs and beer expert who publish articles praising people such as CEO's of pubco's like Ted Tuppen for being saviours of the pub industry (which is visibly collapsing around the country), pointing out that pubco's' expecations of return on investment make them sell pubs they believe to be non viable and there's nothing wrong with that. He uses the term 'ROI' which in itself implies there IS an INVESTMENT in the first instance... My observation was:

Pubco's, by and large, apart from the initial purchase, do not invest in pubs. Pubco's misrepresent their pubs' potential for future profits, set rents at the value of the business post investment by an individual, imaginary lessee, and market them to let accordingly.

The incoming lessee/licensee/publican is the one who invests, directly financially, and with effort, skills, experience, time and graft. The pubco's then reward the lessees by supplying their estates with tied beers at prices increased dramatically over open market rates (up to double free of tie rates) by their profiteering margins.

These nefarious dodgy activities diminish the potential returns that tied publicans can earn, depress profits and leads, over decades, to serial business failure of pubs, massive tenant churn, and to chronic lack of investment in the fabric of the British tied pub estate.

The symptoms of this sickness in the pub sector is thousands of boarded up, run down, evidently failing pubs all over the UK. The costs to the exchequer are huge as business failure leads to families being evicted and housed by local authorities, huge losses to HMRC and to demands on social security. In effect, the tied pubco 'business model' is massively subsidized by the public purse. Ironic that when Admiral Taverns went into administration its main creditor was Lloyds Tsb, when the business was bought by American hedge fund Cerberus the bank - ergo the taxpayer - took a £600 million hit on the debt. That all worked out well for pubs and community and let Admiral continue on its own way meddling in tied pubs without the weight of all that very nasty debt that is forcing Enterprise and Punch to sell pubs off as fast as they possibly can, in an effort just to meet interest payments on the gargantuan loans they raised irresponsibly to buy their bloated run down estates in the first place.

Much of this damage to community and society is entirely avoidable but not as long as the beer tie remains roundly abused by corporate robbers like Enterprise Inns.

They're all at it by the way - Greene King and Marston's are just as bad. And many of the 'family brewers, like Shepherd Neame, are bandits in this area too.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Politicians, landlords and pub-goers tell planning inquiry: 'Save The Golden Lion'

Article in Camden New Journal  4 Sept 2014

So, though everyone but the developers agree the pub is being rolled over Peter Lerner, self professed consultant and 'founder member' of the Campaign for Real Ale CAMRA said:

“Our nostalgic memories will have no effect on what happens today. The change is not an issue for the planning authority. The proposals hold no threat to the Golden Lion.” What? "Hold No Threat"?

Unless the quote is out of context and misrepresents Lerner's meaning, it's clear he is a Judas and actually supporting the planning application.

Who is this Peter Lerner who claims to be a founder of CAMRA? Who, as a 'founder member' would utter such nonsense if they had any understanding of the value that good pubs bring to good communities?

It is obvious even from a distance that this pub is subject to the machinery of the Great British Pubco Scam where tied pub companies asset strip Britain's most treasured assets in plain sight of the nation, profiteering by selling pubs purely for development, to unscrupulous developers, while claiming there is no viable future for their pubs.

#GreatBritishPubcoScam there is NO @FairDeal4Locals

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Nitpicker Needs Correcting

Been on holiday, I'll be posting invoices and price lists to back up what I've been saying for years

Toby’s plight highlights wider problems around failing pubs

From Brighton and Hove News 04.09.2014

The Bevvy, also in Brighton, offers an ideal alternative to the social train wreck that’s happening at the Toby. This pub has been run into the ground by poor management over thirty years and needs substantial investment to make it relevant for contemporary purpose. A hostel is not enough for buildings like this one that are positioned in the heart of communities all over the UK. They need reinvention that comes out of joined up thinking to make them work for people now.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Community shocked by sudden closure of The Lyndhurst

Appalling. This is called The Great British Pubco Scam.
photo from Get Reading
It is happening, continually and increasingly so, all over the UK as pubs close everywhere while Tied Pubco's and Family Brewers, who slavishly follow their toxic 'low cost entry business model', are asset stripping our national traditions, our cultural heritage and sense of place in plain sight, everywhere, by flogging off pubs for alternative use as fast as they can.

This commercial activity of closing pubs and selling them as property assets has a permanent destructive impact every community it happens to.  These companies run down the pubs by fleecing successive tenants, charging too much rent and up to double the open market price for the supplies they oblige them to buy, churning tenants through the pub, lease after lease, until the buildings become so run down no one will rent them again

Then, having proven that no one wants to go to these pubs anymore, because they are run down, knackered boozers that are not fit for purpose, they tell the communities:  'If you'd used it you wouldn't be losing it, you only have yourselves to blame' and sell them for alternative use.

 In some instances, such as with Marston's pub company, they openly say they use the money from such disposals to build new pubs (those ones that are like motorway service station cafes) and they do this all over the country too - build pubs that are so branded, blanded, boring and carbon copy; 'bars, kitchens, counters and eateries' (they usually try to slip in 'traditional pub' somewhere), that, apart from the various logos, you can't tell who owns them or even that they are pubs anymore.  And you certainly don't go to these places to socialise or on the off-chance of meeting someone you've never met before... 

Look around our cities, towns and villages. Look across the entire landscape from John O'Groats to Land's End.  Nowhere is immune to Pubco Blight.  It's worse than Dutch Elm disease and Ash Die Back put together, it's impacting communities everywhere as we lose our places of congregation and comfort, our most treasured places, our homes away from home, forever.

Going are the days of the Great British Pub, this really is a crisis. It's a White Collar Cultural Crime.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

White Collar Cultural Crime: This IS #GreatBritishPubcoScam

Reading's Pubs Closures crisis

Excellent article from Gareth Epps 20 August 2014, see his blog here:

Reading and its surrounds are in the midst of a pub closure crisis.

The sudden departure of the landlord of the Lyndhurst and its closure on Sunday is the latest in a string of closures. I am writing this sat in Wokingham’s Shute End headquarters, about to speak in my CAMRA role (strictly non-party political) in favour of Wokingham using an Article 4 Direction to force Enterprise Inns and Tesco to seek planning permission for their attempt to turn the Maiden Over in Earley – a successful pub in the Good Beer Guide – into yet another Tesco. There is no other pub within a kilometre, and the nearest has a temporary manager in situ and is rumoured to be bought up by another supermarket. Meanwhile the Horncastle on Bath Road has also shut.

All three pubs are owned by Enterprise Inns – Britain’s biggest and most notorious pubco, much-criticised for shutting good pubs and treating landlords appallingly.

The Eldon Arms has also shut, a Wadworth’s pub where the family brewer’s friendly image has quickly vanished after a dispute with licensees who had to close the kitchen down after getting rave reviews for their food. Another Wadworth’s pub, the Star at Waltham St Lawrence, is also reportedly about to close.

Meanwhile objections are being submitted to the application to remove the last traditional skittle alley in the area, the formerly Punch Taverns-owned Red Lion at Theale – also in the Good Beer Guide until it was closed with no notice. This will be a test for a West Berkshire Council’s new and robust pro-pub planning policies.

CAMRA has thankfully stepped up its pub protection campaigning under pressure from members; the new Pubs Matter campaign site from CAMRA is set up to pressure politicians to close the planning loopholes that allow the backdoor closure of pubs and change to supermarkets. Meanwhile the Fair Deal for your Local pubco reform campaign headed up by Greg Mulholland MP is gathering pace before a critical vote which will decide whether the Bill before Parliament has teeth.

One thing is certain – people in and around Reading who care about community pubs have plenty of reason to get stuck into these campaigns. Having had to organise an emergency meeting three weeks ago about one pub closure only to be told of others, I would urge like-minded people to join me in this.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Great British Pubco Scam

Tied lease pubco's are by FAR the worst offenders at profiteering in the pub sector and the family brewers pretty much all slavishly follow their big bad wolf lead. They all get involved in kick backs on supply deals via third party introductions to their tenants but their own wholesale to tenant prices all work out to within pennies difference, pubco to pubco - while they all say their tenants benefit from the buying power they have with suppliers, which gives them competitive purchasing they then pass onto their tenants. It is a downright lie and is undoubtedly cartel like behaviour.
Currently, as of 19 August 2014:

Punch tenants buy Carlsberg wholesale through tied supply chain at £143.70
(11gal 88 pints without wastage) + VAT = £1.96 pint

Similar profiteering wholesale prices are evident in all tied agreements with all pubco's / family brewers.  Wadworth's for example, right now, are charging more than Punch for Carlsberg and an 11 of the same beer can be bought for £68+vat from wholesalers.

CASH&CARRY the same Carlsberg 11gall keg is £84.49
(11gal 88 pints) + VAT = £ 1.15 pint (+ free 6 bots of wine with order of 3 kegs)

Without any negotiation for volume discounts. Independent wholesaler prices are less than Cash&Carry.

Compare contrast with:

J D Wetherspoon's SELLING the same Carlsberg for £1.80-£1.99 a pint inc Vat

Punch, Enterprise et al buying power is undoubtedly as strong as Wetherspoon's - their estates are considerably larger and annual volumes greater. They OBLIGE their tenants to BUY beer at the same price, or more, than JDW charge customers over the bar. JDW consistently outperforms much of the rest of the pub sector in profitability.

Punch and Enterprise et all profiteer and still cannot keep up with their gargantuan interest payments on debt 

It is a scam

Sunday, August 17, 2014

CEO of Marston's Pubs and His 'F-All' Plan to Save #GreatBritishPubcoScam

Ralph Findlay makes me chuckle. HERE he is  interviewed in Mail on Sunday business section (17 August 2014) rambling on about his 'F-Plan to save the Great British Pub. Now I like a bit of alliteration as much as the next amateur blogger but Ralph is straying into the territory a little too Flippantly For my Flavours.

RALPH FINDLAY INTERVIEW: My F-Plan* to save the Great British pub... that's females, family, food and forty to fifty-somethings

photo copyright Paul Lewis 
All smiling and happy in front of the bar with a pint in hand ready to pull in his (somewhat in excess of) £500K+ a year pay packet while he pumps out his story about his long tenure at the top of the British Pub Sector; bravely preserving pubs for ordinary plebs like you and me... Oh and while doing so enjoying the opportunity to have a little dig at the pubco's who are even naughtier than Marston's (Punch Taverns in particular - Punch being everyone's whipping boy at the moment) ... and being naughtier than Marston's IS, I assure you as the Pub Persuader, a bit of a challenge when you know what they really get up to in the Fetid Feudal undergrowth that is the #GreatBritishPubcoScam... and don't forget that ALL the pubco's claim to preserve pubs for people and places when, actually, they are all at it, flogging them off as fast as they can as property prices rocket and the British Public hasn't fully grasped the depth of loss that their naughtiness is having on our culture and community everywhere.

F-Plan Ralph doesn't mention, of course the other part of his Plan, which proves that he cares to do F-ALL about pubs, really, other than treat them as widgets to be pushed around a balance sheet from one row to another until they fall off the page into a more lucrative form of income for his back pocket sorry his shareholders' long term benefit and the detriment of the publicans who run the pubs and the communities they serve... As in the not long past case where Ralph sold off TWO HUNDRED AND TWO of Marston's under-performing (as far as Ralph's bonus scheme dictates) community pubs to New River Retail for £90 million. That's what Ralph spends on New Builds every year so a nice flip from Out With the Old (and all the tenants and the communities they served, to an out and out property developer who works with Tesco and Coop among other not pub interested co's) to In With the New - the high EBITDA Marston's Managed chain of modern pastiche pubs that are branded, blanded, carbon copied and rolled out across the country, where every Monday is Burger Night All Day and the food and beers are the same from John O'Groats to Land's End.

You Are F-PlanTastic Ralph! Pub lovers all over the British Isles Salute YOU!

UPDATE 20 August 2014: Ralph Findlay blames Politicians for the failure of Marston's pubs.

Pro Pub People Perfect Pint Missing the Point About Pubs

A TWEET came up today which got me thinking - of more below - on a Facebook link, which reminded me about Perfect Pint ( ) who are doing some really good things... Salut Perfect Pint! Their website is good to look at and simple to use. They have a slick well thought out promo / intro video:
They've done an APP that guides beer fans to their favourite beers, all over the UK (which if the reviews left on the Google Play download are representative, needs some work to get working as smooth and slick as their website - but that's fine and they say 'as it is a first release and a learning curve for both yourselves and us, please do send us any and all feedback you may have. We'll be updating the app regularly to make sure it is what everyone has been hoping for!***' which is fine by me...
Their Twitter account has almost 30,000 followers and their Facebook page over 22,000 likes. From the adverts on their site it looks like they are monetising (making money) their efforts. Good on them, it really is good stuff.

I talked to them a few years ago when they were getting going...  it was set up by some people who own pubs and like ale and were always having difficulty figuring out where they could find a decent pint when they weren't running their own pubs. They don't want to get into looking at why pubs are closing they're interested in beer and their pubs aren't tied - 'and because all that is a bit negative isn't it really' isn't it (?) - well, it's happening, everywhere, and no one can miss it. SO, I personally don't see how it's 'negative' to acknowledge this, point it out, and have a go at figuring out WHY it's happening. Anyway

What most people who write, commentate, vlog and talk and lobby about when it comes to pubs in the UK is not about pubs. They do it all about BEER. Now I can understand this, slightly, but the fact is that without PUBS there's nowhere to buy BEER. That is why micro pubs are popping up all over the country and people, communities, everywhere, are becoming so concerned about THEIR PUBS ARE CLOSING that they are beginning to mobilise to try and buy their Locals as the Pubco's try to flog them off for alternative use. The efforts to fight the tide of closures are huge, stalwart and determined but in the face of the torrent of collapsing failing pubs it's like a kiddie with a finger stuck in the bottom of a crack in a dam.

My thoughts on Perfect Pint's Tweet:

For a short thing it has a lot of irritating misspelling and grammar. Its sentiments are that: Sentimental.
It misses the point completely which is that pubs, while crucial to the community, cannot serve their community unless they're financially viable - and pubs increasingly are NOT financially viable because they are being asset stripped by pub companies and being run into the ground while being supplied with beer at outrageous prices up to double open market rate and customers are abandoning them in droves, looking for better appointed 'pubs' that are, as often as not, part of well funded managed pub estates usually owned by the same pubco's who are closing the pubs which people like Perfect Pint are asking people to go into and spend a tenner or more to prevent them from closing. It's silly. Customers are not going to go and stand in a worn out pub and buy beer to save it from the economic realities surrounding its ownership and the imbalance of risk and reward there is between the freeholder and the publican.
It's not rocket science - to be fit for purpose for contemporary consumer expectations -Pubs need proper support, proper investment, proper management and good products they can sell on at a reasonable mark up so they can be financially sustainable. This is NOT what the pubco's do in the UK and that is why pubs are closing everywhere.

So Perfect Pint: Sort out your spelling and grammar and get with the pro pub programme instead of promulgating part of the pro pubco propaganda as peddled by the pub sector poodle, the BBPA
BBPA bleating on about all the horrible things that happen to their rich paymasters
whose job is to obfuscate about the real reasons for serial pub business failure (CHURN) all over the UK which are underpinned by excessive tied rents and supply prices and instead hand wring about the epidemic of pub closures being due to pubs having to sell dead expensive beer because of beer duty, having incredible running costs because of red tape, business rates and a multitude of other external things - like the weather and England not winning the World Cup - the freeholders are powerless to do anything about, and they ask, no demand, government and the taxpayer for tax breaks and exemptions from red tape and for millions of customers to go to the Great British Pub instead of to the supermarket... It's pathetic. We just need pubco's to look after their pubs and begin to managed their affairs responsibly.