Monday, August 17, 2015

The Great British Pubco Scam Ramped Up

Vince Power and the last stand of the old Notting Hill bohemians - in The Guardian

Photograph: Jocelyn Bain Hogg
It's happening all over the UK - asset stripping pubco sells to asset stripping developer - screws tenant. Pubco and developer make millions; Pub closes. publican loses, staff lose their jobs, community loses their local, their traditions, the country loses its cultural heritage, sense of place and the things that define it as being different from other countries all over the globe.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

On the Guardian on Corbyn

On the Guardian on Corbyn

Their stance really pisses me off but to be fair The Guardian is treading a very radical path compared to any other papers in as much as they're seriously working on being financially independent of external corporate influence and generating all their income from newspaper and online content that's so appealing that people will pay for it. It's a tall order and from what I've seen they're taking it very seriously. When they set out to do this a couple of years ago figures were published which made it clear this is a huge financial risk. They set up Keep it in the Ground - Fossil Fuels that is - and the Guardian Social Enterprise network runs events that are really impressive with seminars and workshops for environmental impact awareness raising and all sorts of other forward thinking stuff that would be considered very radical only a few years ago...

all of this means they're bound to tread with caution on political backing for fear of losing readers, advertisers and income. They can't afford to look too radical and out there in case people don't buy it.

We are all gripped by the prevailing paradigm, one way or another, and until the tide has really, definitely, certainly turned, there's bound to be a lot, like millions and millions of people who are not going to become adopters until they're confident everyone else is coming along for the ride. Etcetera.

That ride will see people like the arrogant and self important Alistair Heath left on a leaky lilo pumped up with their own odorous free marketeering gas

Saturday, August 01, 2015

A Chat about Pubco Claims, Misrepresentations and Scamming at Source

Came across this conversation on a thread today:

Robert: "Enterprise, with you every step of the way through your journey to becoming a publican."

Andrew: 'Liars'

Robert: 'Aren't you being a little harsh? They're there when the bailiffs pitch up. They're there when you're obliged to go to court. They're certainly there when it's time to evict you from your pub. They're even there when you go to court to declare bankruptcy and of course they're there when they try and repossess your house. As they say; 'every step of the way'!

Andrew: 'Oh Robert are they there when you want MRO? I think they run for cover when "local breweries" are mentioned with a quick retaliation of "you've got SIBA, you've got SIBA!"
They really do take the bloody biscuit'

Sean: '"Enterprise you will hear from us whenever you miss a payment, until that day you're on your own" - 6 long years of meeting every payment and getting no help, not bitter though'

At this point I came across the thread and got interested:

Me: 'The enterprise website, and all the pubco's websites are full of Bullshit worded exactly like this;
They all say they have the best estate, the widest range of pubs to suit all lifestyles, the best provenance, the most flexible range of lease 'agreements', the best and most desirable brands and product support, the best supply flexibility and discount deals, the best training, the best teams of area managers, the best accounting and back office support, the best telephone helplines the best of fucking absolutely everything and anything you can imagine anyone starting out a new business relationship with a big partner could ever, in a month of blue moon Sundays, ever want...

Spend a day checking out all the various pubco websites. They all look like they've had the same creative writing workshop behind them. These pages are the shop windows of a Cartel'

Thinking on I searched: "Enterprise, with you every step of the way through your journey to becoming a publican."

Ooh! Just came across this

Wow! There's loads of these things out there scroll down above ...

ONE could NOT make it up:

"Finder's Bounty £1,500" Enterprise Inns Pub Opportunities Winter 15 Hull & Yorkshire brochure:

Blimey I just found out who's responsible for Enterprise Inns' marketing and image. It's We Are Bunny

Did a bit more looking around. It isn't We Are Bunny it's an agency called Futureproof - "We are an independent creating lighthouse marketing for challenger brands" the above BunnyBoys worked there when ETI got the miracle marketing makeover. See below.

Here's the story in We Are Bunny's words:

"In 2010, Enterprise Inns, the UK’s largest PubCo, had a no brand, bad press and nothing with which to excite its publicans. In 2013 it has a unified brand, a considered experience-marketing strategy and is on the cusp of launching a website that will allow it to leapfrog the competition."

"The start of a new era"

We took a 20-year-old brand and made it appear both fresh and familiar at the same time. Retaining the eagle whilst cutting ‘Inns’ from the name reflected a change in the Enterprise estate and the company itself. Coupled with a distinctive colour palette and an updated tone of voice, the new brand guidelines have now been applied to many hundreds of documents."

"A solid foundation

With sessions in London, the Midlands and the North, we conducted a series of focus groups to understand what features publicans would need within the website. We took this research and developed Balsamiq wireframes to explain the concept and user journeys to Enterprise’s development team. The creation of a Global Experience Language (GEL) catalogues each element for their team and how to go about recreate it."

"Bringing order to complexity

Making a lot of information easily accessible at a relevant time and in the right context was the main element of our recommendation. Working closely with the development team at Enterprise, we created a site that is both intelligent and easy to navigate, giving the right information at the right time so that even less tech-savvy publicans are able to find it."

"Making the most of a good thing

To publicise the first round of updates to the Enterprise site, specifically pub search, we designed and produced an HMTL email to be sent to the entire database of registered users on that highlighted the benefits of the new design in an easy-to-read and engaging way. In the week after the email was sent out, searches made on the Enterprise website rose from 1,200 to 4,300."

"Read all about it

Engagement with its publicans was very low, and was compounded by bad press from the lack of any real PR activity. Enterprise needed a way to reconnect with its publicans. We designed and produced a newspaper, deals brochure and email template that would increase the communication channels to publicans in a consistent and familiar way."

"The cherry on top

Driven by the impending introduction of e-commerce for Enterprise publicans, we identified a need for a brand to encapsulate the ways the company interacts with its publicans, and vice versa. We therefore streamlined the brand hierarchy to make it easy for publicans to know which services were relevant to them. We created a suite of tools and associated iconography to effect a unified look:"

Enterprise Inns

Here's the story in Futureproof's words:


"Enterprise are the largest pub company in the UK, but you are unlikely to have heard of them. That’s because their enormous portfolio of over 5,400 pubs (for comparison there are 700 Starbucks in the UK) are all purposely not branded as Enterprise pubs and are independently run.

An increase in pub closures, and growing pressure from lobbyists to review their business model, catalysed Enterprise’s need for a rethink. They wanted to establish a fresher, clearer and more transparent identity, more fit for the modern world of leisure.

Futureproof were tasked with helping Enterprise to reposition their brand. We performed a significant audit of the company and brand to see what was going wrong and in doing so, we identified three central areas of focus. Firstly, they needed to become a brand with personality; secondly, they were constantly firefighting negative publicity; and thirdly, they had no real way of corresponding with their 5,400 Publicans, sharing best practice and stimulating interaction."

"After conducting research with groups of Publicans, stakeholders, and consumers, we landed on three central ideas to address Enterprise’s problems. Firstly we created a brand, based on the essence of ‘Empowering the Great British Publican’ – and built a graphical and tonal language for the company to consistently communicate within. Secondly we created a CSR scheme called the ‘Community Hero Awards’ – designed to not only allow Enterprise to have a positive impact on the communities their pubs were in, but also to enable them to have positive conversations with the media. Thirdly, we created an online and offline internal communication platform called ‘Empower’ – designed to reignite the relationship between Enterprise and its 5,400 Publicans.

This commitment to marketing and communication was a significant shift for the 20 year-old company who had never really worked with a creative agency before.

The results were dramatic. Not only did relationships with Publicans significantly improve, and Enterprise commit to spending £10million in the local communities of their pubs, but the commercial performance of the business also turned a corner. Over the three years that Futureproof have worked with Enterprise, their share-price has enjoyed a more than five-fold increase, from 27p (2011) to £1.50 (2014). And as of March 2014 the firm reported like-for-like net income growth of 1.1% for the six months to March 31, making it three straight quarters of growth for the first time since 2008."

So. It's all down to marketing then.

Note what he says from 43 seconds in: "Once you've completed and agreed your business plan and terms with us... it's almost time to start your exciting career as an Enterprise publican". I'd say that's a subliminal message implying you have some kind of job security. What it should say is 'your exciting career as a self employed person running a business taking on all the liabilities a large pub company has'. 

That's it for now folks. I'll try to find the time to balance this out with some posts about other White Collar Cultural Criminal Scamming Pubco websites as well. Just to show there's not a fag paper's width of difference between them. At least they don't employ all the same people... Hang on! They DO!

Seems that Leisure industry analysts Panmure Gordon don't agree with the marketing companies about Enterprise being Futureproof: "Asset disposals will continue at about £60m per year" That's a lot of pubs to be selling to pay interest on debt ETI raised to buy them in the first place.

The Personnel Blowout. Hissy Fits and Personality Disorder in the Inn Kitchen

'If anyone can cook fresh pub grub and fancies a couple of months in beautiful Cornwall please get in touch as our Head Chef had a major blowout last night and walked out'...

This not uncommon plea was posted this morning in a private forum I help admin, Licensees Supporting Licensees, where publicans discuss issues of the moment and the wider world and freely share support, advice and guidance based on combined hundreds of years' experience of the pressured, but perennially brilliant, public house catering environment.

My comment based on twenty five years of work in the hospitality industry is below. By the way, if anyone reading this is interested in the job above, do get in touch and I'll make the introductions.

Long time work in Catering tends to attract people with needs that are different from other professions, people who don't 'fit in' into more conventional working structures, often people who rely on personality, wit, graft and improvisation rather than formal qualifications for career progression. The people who can't hack 'Head Chef' positions in more stable and highly regimented pressurised restaurant catering often fall into the more laid back, less formal areas of catering such as in the burgeoning Pub food area. These charismatic broken personality, usually drug or alcohol addled, fallouts from being unable to manage the demands of higher things in the dysfunctional broader catering world come along to the pub sector basically trained to be mercurial bullies who get the job done by mimicking the bastards they worked for above but without the skills needed, or indeed the staff, to delegate the whole job of getting a menu out reliably consistently delivering quality and value and enough profit to pay the kitchen's overhead...

They come to the job saying they didn't get enough creative satisfaction in their previous posts and are looking for a challenge where they can set out their stall, make a name for themselves and their new adopted pub Establishment, and make a mark on the world. They're out of their depth and blagging it. They don't know how to train without screaming at people, they can't delegate, there's probably not enough people to delegate to anyway, and the only way they can get their head around achieving everything they say they can do is do absolutely everything themselves, from peeling veg to washing pans because no one else in your kitchen is capable because the previous 'chef' was shit. They're totally out of their depth and incapable of admitting it because then their pay would be compromised and they wouldn't be able to sustain their drug habit, and they work all the time, burn their candle at both ends and flog everything to psychological and physical breaking point until blow out happens.

Nicky and I resolved this perennially difficult reality by working very hard on the always reliable 'line cooks' and 'dish dogs' and training them to run the kitchen without the presence of any arsehole prima donna whose main role was to keep everyone else around them believing the world will collapse without their own presence dominating every last corner of their working lives. Resulted in the most stable and productive years we ever had in the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How Do I Make a Complaint About Enterprise Inns' Behaviour?

... And who do I complain to?

Read their Code of Practice...

Follow the guidelines in it. Before you report Enterprise Inns to the relevant authorities (as pointed out above by John Almond, I have no idea who they are, they don't exist because all channels are in the pockets of the pubco's) I imagine it'll be like Heineken and you must first exhaust your complaint via their internal complaint procedure. So you have to make up your own relevant authorities... That is: copy in these people:

Your Local councillors and your MP, Marcus Jones, Minister for Pubs, Brigid Simmonds, CEO BBPA, the Business Innovation and Skills department and Andrew Griffiths, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, Greg Mulholland chair of All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub group and the Chair of the Select Committee Pubco's and to David Cameron and George Osborne.

Once you have all their contact details it's simple to keep them in the loop.

At the Top

Start with the fact that you had to search for their Code of Practice and that no employee of Enterprise Inns has ever drawn it to your attention and you only discovered it through researching their website which promotes how fair and open and transparent their relationship with their publican partners always is.

Say your experience is completely unlike anything that's published by Enterprise Inns on their website or promoted through their roadshows and in any pamphlets or marketing material you've seen.

Explain why you're including them at this early stage... Given the history of your relationship with Enterprise Inns you're entirely sceptical of their ability to conduct complaint proceedings according to their own COP as they've failed to meet even the most basic tenets of their promises made to you since signing your contact. You do not trust them in the least. In fact you suspect that your instigating a complaint will trigger an escalation of their historic abuse of your relationship with them...

And so on.

Copy in some journalists as well.

Helen Fospero
Roger Protz
Pete Brown
Others too, business pages of the broadsheets and Kevin Maguire at the Mirror

Problems at t'Coal Face

The Micropub movement and craft ale revolution prove there's burgeoning demand for more good quality beer retail and places to socialise all over the UK.

BUT there are major obstacles to progress of this gestative movement not yet evident in the market: 

1) the substantial outlet for beer wholesale remains foreclosed due to restrictive tie contracts across the UK. There are strict restrictions to the volume of beer that can be dispensed through the limitations of capacity of small independent retailers that are micropubs... They simply cannot keep pace with the underlying market demand
2) and microbreweries are going to suffer as their available market becomes a competitive pressure cooker where there's oversupply.

MRO next year may improve this situation but the pubco's are actively bullying tenants out of substantive long term agreements anticipating in advance they will be going free of tie...  Micropubs cannot take up the latent demand made by the cartel.  Instead people change their habits and find other ways to spend leisure time ... Family friendly managed food and drink destination venues, often owned by... the same Pubco's operating the Tie cartel (Marston's, Greene King, M&B, and Punch and Enterprise are getting into this big time with anodyne carbon copy identikit units where you can't tell who owns them except through knowing the brands each corporate has distribution deals with) ... coffee chains and just plain not going out to socialise because it's so expensive and uninteresting to do so in the majority of our underinvested pubs.

All of this shows need for mass conversion of the national pub estate to free of tie with simultaneous investment in its fabric to completely reinvigorate Britain. The micropub movement and ale revolutions will thrive alongside but it's a tall order.

The Great British Pubco SCAM explained in a piece of pie

The Great British Pubco SCAM explained in a piece of pie:

On a £4 pint at 3.75% profit a tied publican has to sell over 45 pints an hour to make minimum wage.

The reason that thousands of pubs are run down and dilapidated is simply because of this fact. They've been asset stripped over the last quarter century and chronic lack of investment leaves them not fit for purpose, 'proven to be economically unviable' and targeted to be suitable for conversion to alternative use by the pubco freeholders.

Bottom line in the scandal is: There's NO surplus profit left for the tenant to reinvest in 'their' business (the pub owned by pubco bondholders they are tied into through a usurious, onerous contract (lease) which amounts to nothing less (without irony) than legally sanctioned modern bonded labour.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The RVT Royal Vauxhaull Tavern



The RVT Royal Vauxhaull Tavern massively historically important gay venue in London is going to be asset stripped by fly by night white collar cultural criminal private equity developers.

This is an insight to what is happening to pubs ALL OVER THE UK. It's eroding community spirit absolutely everywhere and together as a nation we are letting it happen.

It's a massive, pernicious cultural crime that's taking place around us. We're all affected. Pubs are the last bastion of Britishness, they're the melting pot of society, the place where class and difference don't matter. Where people are equal. Where young and old learn to be together where people genuinely can experience each other as equals, where difference can be celebrated and cherished and tolerance and inclusion learned from. They're precious and they're being killed off for short term profit by rich greedy sociopathic pricks who don't care about society or community or culture unless they can buy it and put it on a mantelpiece to admire for themselves.



From legendary turns to historical relics, police raids to Diana in drag, there’s simply nowhere like the Tavern

To its regulars, the unique charms of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern need no introduction. But for those who’ve never been inside, allow us to present a quick 10-point primer on the south London boozer’s unique contribution to the fields of history, community, art, architecture, social justice, gossip and – oh yes – good old fun.

1. The RVT is needed now more than ever

‘Sure,’ you might think, ‘this sounds a place with a lot of history. But times change. What does it have to offer the future?’ In fact, the Tavern’s unique past is the very thing that makes it so vital to London today, and tomorrow. It’s an institution in the very best sense – a rich network of people, knowledge and experience built up over decades to address the emotional, cultural and recreational needs of thousands of people whose lives remain outside the mainstream in many ways. As well as a place for a pint, a laugh, a dance or a snog, the Tavern is a highly sophisticated machine for generating art, community and wellbeing – things our society needs now more than ever – things that can’t be left to market forces. It simply can’t be replaced.

2. It’s located at ground zero in the history of modern fun

Constructed between 1860 and 1862, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern was the first building on the former site of the Vauxhall pleasure gardens. The world-famous attraction closed in 1859 after two sensational centuries during which it arguably created modern leisure culture. For the first time, mass audiences could afford access to cutting-edge music, art, fashion and food, all in one place: it was where Britain fell in love with cocktails and pop songs, as well as Handel and Hogarth. Royals, shop assistants, drag queens – everyone went, and what happened in the woodland walkways stayed in the woodland walkways…

3. Its metal columns might be the last physical remnants of that bygone era

Those metal columns inside the RVT that sometimes block your view of the stage? There’s reason to believe they’re the last known remnants of the pleasure gardens. The gardens were famed for their column-lined promenades and pavilions, and a bunch of kit – including metal columns – was sold at auction in between the gardens closing and the pub opening on the same site. Given that the owners of the pub designed ornate brickwork frontage and chose a name that evoked the site’s history – by 1859 they were the Royal Gardens, Vauxhall – why wouldn’t they snap up some iconic objects as well?

4. It’s the oldest continually operating LGBTQ space in London, probably the UK

Vauxhall was a well-known early cruising spot, while unconfirmed reports describe drag acts at the Tavern as early as the 1880s. For obvious reasons, detailed records of such activity are scarce but the RVT certainly had a queer clientele by the 1940s, if not earlier, initially alongside drinkers who were straight – or at least straight-acting. By the 1950s, drag was a staple, with performers frequently running along the large curved bar that used to dominate the pub, sometimes sending drinks flying. Of the numerous gay venues operating in London at the time, the RVT is probably the only one still going.

5. It’s a cradle of drag royalty

The RVT’s roster of regular performers reads like a who’s who of post-war British drag history: Jean Fredericks, Rogers & Starr, Mrs Shufflewick, Lee Paris, Adrella, David Dale, Regina Fong, David Hoyle, The DE Experience, Timberlina, Charlie Hides, the LipSinkers, Myra DuBois and many more – including, of course, Lily Savage, aka Paul O’Grady, who held court there every week for eight years and has referred to the pub as both “the Royal Vauxhall Tavern School of Dramatic Art” and “my spiritual home”. The playwright and director Neil Bartlett OBE calls it home to “the most extraordinary and accomplished avant-garde artists that I’ve ever seen”.

6. It’s at the heart of the story of London’s LGBTQ community

Before gay sex was decriminalised in 1967, pubs like the RVT were crucial to creating a sense of community for people often subjected to isolation, persecution or violence. “They almost fill the role of the family home,” as historian Matt Houlbrook has put it. Connections were forged across barriers of class and age between scene veterans and those arriving from education, the armed forces or out of town. Since decriminalisation, the Tavern has consistently been involved with charity and fundraising work, using models of varying butchness from sports days to drag roasts. Many individual events are thriving micro-communities in their own right – Tuesday night’s Bar Wotever, for instance, has been championing trans rights and culture for more than a decade.

7. When the police raided the pub at the height of the AIDS crisis – wearing rubber gloves – the drag queens started a riot

AIDS devastated London’s LGBTQ community: without any known treatment it was pretty much a death sentence, yet mainstream society reacted with indifference or hostility, including a police crackdown on gay venues. The RVT was a key site of support, coordinating fundraising and open discussion and hosting funeral wakes. In January 1984, 35 policemen raided the Tavern wearing rubber gloves – presumably in case they spilled HIV-infected blood. According to RVT lore, Lily Savage kicked off from the stage inciting something like a riot – SE11’s very own Stonewall – that saw her and 10 others arrested. The fall-out from the incident eventually helped improve police-community relations.

8. Princess Diana once turned up in butch leather drag

The RVT has welcomed all manner of starry guests, from Diana Dors to Su Pollard, Vivienne Westwood to Maggi Hambling. But none is more illustrious than Princess Diana. In her memoir, Cleo Rocos – co-star of the 1980s comedian Kenny Everett –recalls how one evening she was watching The Golden Girls with Kenny Everett, Freddie Mercury and Diana, a pal of both men. When they mentioned their plan to go to the RVT, Diana insisted on coming. So Everett dressed her in military and leather boy-drag and off they went, successfully getting a round in without the princess being recognised.

9. The RVT kick-started a new generation of queer performers

After Duckie began its regular Saturday night at the RVT in 1995 – which is still running today – the Tavern became a testing ground for a whole new generation of queer performance. Its stage saw experimentation from the likes of Christopher Green, Ursula Martinez, David Hoyle, George Chakravarthi, Marisa Carnesky and Scottee, who have since worked with institutions including the Barbican, BBC radio and TV, British Council, Chelsea Theatre, National Portrait Gallery, Roundhouse, Royal Academy, Royal Shakespeare Company, Soho Theatre and the Southbank Centre. And by directly inspiring the Cake Tin Foundation, the RVT has catalysed a recent queer renaissance in Manchester and beyond.

10. It’s a bit of a celeb in its own right

If you saw the 2014 film Pride, about the links between the striking miners and London queer activists, you’ll have spotted the RVT’s cameo when the miners’ group makes a return visit to the capital. The film’s makers were keen to use the Tavern because of its links to the era of the story but they weren’t the first: 1970’s Goodbye Gemini showed the pub, including a drag act, and it’s also featured in novels, paintings, audio drama and numerous reference and guide books.

Bonus reason: It’s a survivor, goddammit

Constructed as part of a townscape of a dozen-odd streets, the Tavern stood at the apex of two rows of terraced houses – hence its distinctive three-sided shape. But in the 1970s, almost all of the other 1860s buildings were torn down to make way for the park, leaving the Tavern standing alone. Since then, it has survived one attempt to turn it into a backpackers’ hostel and another to demolish it to make way for a shopping centre (including water park and ‘snow dome’). Now, with Vauxhall one of the hotspots of London’s luxury property development boom, its future is again in doubt. But we love it. And, if need be, we’ll defend it.

By Ben Walters, author of RVT Future’s 15,000-word application to English Heritage to make the Royal Vauxhall Tavern the nation’s first building to be listed in recognition of its importance to LGBTQ community history

Friday, June 26, 2015

Officials halt plans to turn Elephant and Castle pub into a branch of Foxtons

Evening Standard Headline

Same story in Estate Agent Today: Foxtons frustrated by latest twist in pub-office saga 

The last thing the immediate vicinity needs is a Foxton's. The Elephant and Castle has enormous potential as ... A PUB! It is in a fantastic, high footfall location. People dismissing the pub as a bad place that deserves change of use because of past problems are just plain wrong.  There's nothing wrong with the area and the potential customer base at all but the pub has been poorly managed for years. Poor pub management leads to poor behaviour among customers and the kind of history this venue has seen.  The pub itself is genuinely iconic because of its remarkable heritage and as a modern building could easily be made to be an iconic example of its own architectural style. It's a marvellous opportunity to prove that well run pubs, properly invested with good products and service have vibrant, financially sustainable futures ahead of them.

Here's my bit on the Elephant and Castle pub from a week or so ago

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Some people just resist change of any kind. Me? I embrace it. Every day of my life is so different from every other day all the change across all the days blurs into one and it's all the same.