Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interview re Pubco Regulation on Phil Williams R5 Live 19.11.14

From the Duke of Wellington, a great pub on Balls Pond Road

Compilation of articles about the 'end' of the beer tie

Brits to Get Cheaper Beer!
(If They Can Still Find a Pub to Sell It)

Pub shares slide after vote to break beer 'tie'


And a little bit of comment somewhere else in response to someone saying another publican was 'naive' and by implication worthy of being shafted by a pubco

That is exactly right ******* that is how the pubco's have got away with it for so long. Because people like you casually dismiss their absolutely unacceptable behaviour as being somehow 'okay' because people are 'naive'

Well, I am not naive and many of the highly successful publicans I know who run multiple sites that are tied are not naive either but they don't make enough money out of their tied pubs to be able to walk away, and few of them are profitable enough for anyone to want to buy, they are trapped with their pubco's taking all the profit. These people do not speak out against the beer tie because they have too much to lose... and there are thousands of individual publicans out there in the trap too, intimidated by their pubco staff, harried, bullied and treated like slaves, because they can.

Before I came into the pub trade as the owner of a tied lease I was among the most experienced restaurateurs around. I had worked in every position from kitchen to front of house senior management in some of the busiest restaurants in Britain, including River Cafe, Kensington Place, Joe Allens, Ed's Diner and two of Manchester's busiest places as well. I had managed two restaurants in the West End and been general manager of a high profile Mayfair club and restaurant for three years. Then I ran my own landscaping business for six years before I taking on a tied lease in 1995 (which was advertised as becoming free of tie in 1998, it did not). I invested £200K in the premises over a period of 16 years and left in 2011, my entire life in ruins, my life savings stolen from me, times ten, my family split up, had had two nervous breakdowns, appeared in High Court to represent myself after spending £47K on legal fees over a rent review I ended up losing to an arbitrator who took fictitious figures the pubco presented as evidence of my business's ability to afford against real income figures he ignored, according to RICS guidelines that is, to be evicted, bankrupted, made homeless for three years...

Mind you I can tell you that all that has been worthwhile now, because to see this vile English, for it is English not British, hegemony begin to come to an end has validated everything I ever stood up to against those bullies who treated me and so many thousands of other people as if they were medieval land barons crushing the lives of serfs...

As we're on about it here's a short film that CAMRA commissioned that covers a little of my experience, and a couple of other very competent not naive publicans who've also been shafted as a matter of course along the way...

This is a comment I left on The Guardian because it needed to be said 
It's a shame the article doesn't go into more depth following a little more in depth research. The legislation was drafted by publicans with politicians alongside and is NOT a case of 'government meddling' and is easily 20 years overdue. That the beer tie has been around for 400 years as some kind of benign deliverer of beer to market is a romantic myth promoted by the BBPA,, the trade organisation for Big Brewers and Pubco's, which does not represent a single independent publican or small brewer. The BBPA exists to promote the myth that the beer tie is fit for purpose. It is not and it has, like any unsupervised legal contract, a history of abuse as long as its existence. Which is why in the end it was voted against and passed against a strong Tory three line whip aiming to maintain the grotesquely iniquitous status quo. On Thursday Government conceded it would send the amendment to the Lords unopposed so, some unforeseen argy bargy by the pubco's aside, law will change in March 2015 and tied publicans will for the first time in history have some autonomy on the pricing of their beer supplies.
Anyone reading this now may like to know that a campaign group of publicans called Fair Pint and a forum called Licensees Supporting Licensees were involved in the background to the legislation being drafted. Just saying for the record because no one ever listens to publicans, they just talk about them as if they are cardboard cut outs. They are not, They are the people who generate all the profit for the entire pub sector.

"Biggest Shake-up for centuries" after 'beer tie' is scrapped ... Yay! We did it!

I've been too busy pushing along in the wave of helping reform happen in the pub sector to be able to post much recently. But in short we made history. Look forward to seeing the reactions to this, apart from the share prices of the major pubco's plummeting as they have been.

It's been long hours. It's been everyone pulling together in an extraordinary effort to get right accepted instead of might. It's been emotional.

For the time being, because the headline is the best I've seen, I'll let the Mail say it in their own words ...

This is a great victory for right over might but is at LEAST 20 years overdue and CEO's of some of these companies whose actions have ruined the lives of thousands of licensees and damaged almost as many communities should be in jail with the profits they stole from the nation sequestered back into the pub sector to help heal the irreparable damage they have done.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Package of support for the Great British pub

the tweet of irony of ironies

Unbelievable clap trap from the government

and the New 'Pubs Minister' Kris (who appears to block ALL pro pub campaigners from his twitter account) Hopkins. I'm sure my posting this accurate appraisal of this latest-not-enough-by-a-million-miles 'government support' for pubs will make it impossible for me, or any of my publican colleagues who are deeply concerned about the future of British pubs, to meet this man of pubs, publicans and the people and places they serve. This post will no doubt serve to discredit the campaigns I am associated with and confirm that the government is right to do nothing, as usual, for pubs because the ungrateful peasants are not getting down and prostrating themselves before The Minister for Maintaining the Status Quo.

'Package of support'? This is feeble, weak, pathetic 'support' (read 'crumbs') for, by Kris Hopkins' own admission, a significant part of the British economy. The language of the press release leaves little doubt that whoever was tasked to write it was struggling to believe the package is anything more than a bit of stale pie wrapped in a bog roll.

"Community Pubs Minister Kris Hopkins has today (11 November 2014) announced £50,000 of extra funding for the Plunkett Foundation which runs a telephone support line for communities who fear their pub might be under threat."

PATHETIC. Fifty thousand pounds? There are FIVE HUNDRED Asset of Community Value pubs already granted and hundreds more are on the way and Plunkett "runs a telephone support line for communities who fear their pub might be under threat."

PATHETIC. Put this into a proper perspective:  Just at a small level which I am sure most people have not heard of AT ALL about Marston's. Do not forget that Marston's are amateurs when it comes to asset stripping their 'underperforming' pub estates. Ralph Findlay has been getting into Ted Tuppen's old strides recently but still pales to insignificance when you consider that ETI and Punch get rid of around 500-700 pubs a year for alternative use between them.

While OUR politicians are throwing crumbs at the cultural crisis that's going on around them Marston's have sold over 200 of their tied lease pubs to New River Retail - a company specialising in maximising tax efficient returns on investment by converting saggy retail property into new uses that make more money - That is over 200 pubs that have tenants in them who have tied leases with Marston's. AND, irony of ironies the Co-operative is one of the main players wanting to take on these pubs to convert them to COMMUNITY SHOPS. Yes shops. Not pubs. Shops... How tragically, perversely ironic

One arm of the Cooperative movement is saving pubs while another is turning considerably (loads) more of them into supermarkets...than it manages to 'save' as pubs.

Here's a report from April 2014 on the Co-operative Estates website about the New River Retail / Cooperative Love In. This is called Asset Stripping in most places, when it comes to pubs it doesn't even get a mention at government level. Mind you it's doubtful, given the amount of interest government has in pubs, as opposed to Chianti, they even know these things are happening. And from what I know of the Co-op they probably aren't aware in high places that they are pub killers.

"In November 2013 NewRiver announced its £90 million acquisition of a portfolio of 202 public houses from Marston’s, with the primary intention of conversion of land and buildings to alternative use, notably convenience stores."

There needs to be joined up POLICY and there is NONE. It is PATHETIC. Whatever happened to Nick Hurd when we need him?

And just after I finished this post I found a petition asking Marston's not to let The Wellington Hotel, a pub in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, be force closed and converted to a Cooperative Local Store. 

If YOU care about what is happening as Britain gets buried in swathes of carbon copy pubs as almost two thousand potentially brilliant 'independent' 'sole trader' pubs are flogged off by flybynight scammers then follow the Wellington link and sign the petition. Then tweet and facebook it and ask all your friends to do the same.

At least Marston's might experience some embarrassment for once and you might feel a little better than you did yesterday because you did something to Save a Great British Pub. X

AND now the morning after. Another Marston's New River Retail Coop deal over The Ship Inn at Whitemans Green, Cuckfield THIS is their Twitter feed and THIS is their Facebook page and THIS is a video about it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The True Cost of Pub Closures are the Human Costs that are Never Calculated. It HAS to stop.

Dear CAMRA friends. Please bear with me. This is serious. I'm a professional publican. I have to tell you a story of the everyday in tied pubs. This is an insight into what really lies behind pub closures all over the country. Whenever there's a boarded up pub, there's a story rather like this one behind the scenes, a story that hardly ever gets reported. It's the pub closures that journalists, communities and pubco's concentrate on, not the human tragedy that's the real story.

What's on my mind is that my friend, Val Spencer, on Twitter @Lifelandlady, is in hospital with a brain hemorrhage from the stress of fighting Enterprise Inns, her 'business partner' for years.

Val is 46, doesn't drink or smoke, eats carefully, exercises regularly and has a history of good health. has three daughters aged from nine to eighteen. She and her husband Gav, the chef in their Enterprise Inns owned pub, the Old Cock Inn, Sheringham (excuse me, it's actually Lavenham), recently separated and Gav moved out of the pub with their daughters. They have been in dispute with Enterprise for years now, as many tied publicans are with their freeholders, year in, year out. I had a similar was of attrition with my freeholder, Heineken for years too. It's should destroying, depressing and utterly negative.

This is completely wrong. As a society we accept these wrongs happen all the time. It's business. Every time a pub closes or shuts temporarily We allow this kind of thing to happen just because the pubco's make profits. They make profits by taking all the profit out of their pubs. That means they take all their tenants' profits, leaving the tenants with nothing. Their tenants' businesses, pubs, are failing in ever growing numbers while the pubco's use the profits taken from their tenant to pay £hundreds of millions in interest on the loans they bought the pubs with in the first place.

This is a private equity asset stripping scam. It's decimating British traditional pub culture, devastating communities as they lose their pubs forever and it's all dependent on running pubs into the ground and selling as many as possible for alternative use. This is getting rid of around 2000 pubs every year. It's changing society irrevocably.

Money makes the pubco's behaviour right. We let them get away with it. It's wrong and this is the REAL ‪#‎GreatBritishPubcoScam‬ - the human cost, the damage to thousands of individual publicans, their families, the communities they serve, the statutory authorities, the tax payers, who pick up the tab for these few private equity driven sociopathic 'pub company' corporations who are destroying some of our most treasured and precious, unique and irreplaceable way of life.

It HAS TO STOP. I know what fighting a pubco is like... I was a tied tenant for sixteen years. I took on a shithole boozer that was dead on its arse in the middle of some of the most socially and economically deprived Wards in the UK and turned it into a pioneering, leading gastro pub that other people, and pub companies, have copied. My business turned over £750K a year and I employed up to 20 staff in all that time so don't think I don't know what I'm talking about. All I got was almost two decades of fighting a pubco that was purely intent on taking ALL my profit and screwing me into the ground financially.

The problem with people on the outside is they always say.

"You can't say stress has done that to them."

That's what the pubco's say. It's what everyone says. They're wrong.

Her medical team don't have any problems identifying the problem..

I don't have a problem knowing that it's stress because I became suicidal when I was battling my pubco. Six years of rent review, being told you're a failure all the time by your business partner who have teams of staff turning the screws on hundreds of individual publicans constantly. That's what they do. And people on the outside tell people like me, who's been through it all and knows dozens of people it's been done to, and is still being done to, that we're wrong...

I know it's happening all the time because it is.

You simply choose to tell me I'm wrong.

British tied Pubco's are a national disgrace. The evidence of their utter failure is written all over our landscape.

Just step back and look at what is happening all over and put the events together and you can see the Great British Pubco Scam, the result of an unfettered market where corporations do whatever they want - including completely abusing contract and the human rights of thousands of individual people who invest in the pubco's 'low cost entry' into running 'their own' business.

There is a litany of news reports from regional papers all over the country of publicans being abused by their pubco's, that stretches back decades.

These are regarded as one isolated case after another of an individual publican being mistreated by rogue Business Development Managers who somehow did a load of things the Board of Directors regard as totally out of order.

There is a similar continuous trail of stories of communities all over the UK campaigning to try to save their last pub (almost always ex tied pubco) from conversion to alternative use. These communities always discover their pub is about to be shut forever just as it's happening and it's a done deal. There's almost always a developer in the frame with cash who expects to turn the pub into profit.

These are regarded as the isolated odd story of one pub or another that: 'sadly is no longer economically viable' (according to the freeholder) even though there is a whole community up in arms about it, saying they NEED a pub, WANT a pub, and will put money into saving their pub, IF they get the chance to save it. And carpers on say 'if you didn't want to lose it you should have used it' - while completely missing the point that the pub was not used because it was deliberately run down to make it 'unviable' and suitable for sale.

There are stories of publicans committing suicide, of publicans and their families leaving their pubs overnight, of sudden mysterious closure of pubs, all over the country. There are stories of pubs being turned into Tesco Locals, Sainsbury's, Coop shops, Paddy Power, Coral, other betting shop chains and into ugly residential conversions that blight townscapes, all over the country. There are stories of Punch leasing pubs direct to Tesco Of Marston's selling 200 pubs, with tied tenants in situ, to Private Equity retail specialists.

Meanwhile there are individual stories popping up all over the country of communities and small pub companies taking on failed ex tied pubs, clearly proven by events and described by their pubco's (as above) as being 'no longer economically viable' and investing in them and their successfully becoming really attractive, busy, financially viable local pubs and community hubs again.

Meanwhile there are individual stories of 'Micro Pubs' popping up all over the country in non licensed shops and talk of a revolution in the pub sector. These new businesses are manifestly serving a demand for something good, authentic new and of the moment that the rest of the pub sector, manifestly, is not serving.

Meanwhile, across the last decade from 2004 to 2014 the government has called four Select Committee inquiries to investigate the relationships between pubco's and their tied tenants. Each of these inquiries has concluded that there is widespread evidence of serious abuses by pubco's and that unless they change their behaviour they must be regulated. Each inquiry has said 'the pubco's are in the last chance saloon'.

The response from the pubco's family brewers and the British Beer and Pub Association has always been 'isolated instances of abuse, self regulation is working, thousands of tenants are happy with their relationship with their pubco, regulating the tie will close all family brewers and the pub industry will collapse'. And nothing changes - the next inquiry finds the same as the last.

When you take all these things and look at them together what is happening is obvious but these stories are not linked up, never connected except in the most cursory way as being evidence of Britain's changing habits. Yet in almost every instance there is a tied pubco in the background

What these events describe very clearly is the systemic carve up of the British pub sector by tied pub companies and bigger brewers who copy them. They are just cashing in on tied tenants all over the country, milking them as hard as they can for cash and when their businesses fail ultimately they sell them and use the proceeds to either pay debt interest or to invest in new build managed chain pubs that are the same as all the other pub company pubs. It is everywhere, it's endemic, it is deliberate and it's coming to a pub near you and the result is a run down pub, often a beautiful building, that chronically lacks investment, is smelly, falling apart and is simply not fit for purpose and cannot compete with say a Starbucks or any other business that doesn't have buddleais sprouting from the roof and toilets that stink and can actually legally sell products YOU want THAT is why no one is using the pubs...

And YOU, and most other people, are very likely to say something like:

'If you didn't want to lose it you should of used it'

Friday, October 17, 2014

Campaign sparks move to protect all borough's pubs

Article in Waltham Forest Guardian 15.10.2104

The Leytonstone Save The Heathcote Campaign has prompted the council to start a process of ensuring the community has a say on the future of every pub in the borough

Local councillors Khevyn Limbajee, Anna Mbachu and Chris Robbins are being accused of making policy on the hoof and exposing the local authority to financial threat for taking decisive action to protect this pub from conversion to alternative use.

Politicians doing nothing, not acting for fear of 'compensation' for not allowing short term private equity interests get away with exactly whatever they want to do to develop property against public interest is one serious factor that is leading to communities losing vital amenity and social hubs all over the country.

This is a good move by a council where there are inadequate planning tools available to protect buildings that are most certainly community assets - and pubs particularly - from being quickly converted into shops or residential to the permanent detriment of the social fabric of Britain.

Far too often councillors are risk averse and will not stand up to inappropriate development - very often so that even the last pub available to a community gets rolled over to development to alternative use such as this story today from Wyke Regis in Dorset:

There needs to be a radical, well funded market led alternative to the disaster that is taking place to pubs all over the UK - a pub company that is well financed that can take on developers and buy pubs for the right reasons - to remain pubs and preserve, enhance and invigorate them so they're fit for contemporary purpose

Councillors approve plans to turn historic pub into flats. Bad Decision.

Story in Dorset Echo 15.10.2014

It is frankly difficult to understand how local councillors can be so ignorant and blinkered to what is happening right on their doorstep. You don't have to live locally to be able to tell the story of this pub as if it were being read from a book - because precisely the same thing is happening to pubs all over the country and it is called the Great British Pubco Scam: Public Houses are simply being asset stripped in plain sight of the British communities by short term private equity driven corporations posing as 'pub companies' who are absolutely nothing of the sort. It isn't complicated, IF these genuinely were 'pub companies' they would be investing in pubs, reinvigorating pubs, making pubs fit for contemporary purpose not flogging them off, or 'divesting' them at the rate of two thousand pubs a year.
Photo Dorset Echo
People stopped going to this pub not because they don't want a local pub but because it was not fit for purpose. The pub was not invested in over a couple of decades and it became chronically run down, dilapidated and unattractive to customers. THAT is why people stopped using it -

It's most likely that a pubco like Punch Taverns, Enterprise Inns or any one of many others owned the pub and leased it to a succession of publicans under a tied lease which extracted all the profit from the premises, leaving the business to fail, again and again until it would be no longer economically viable and it was sold to a private developer.

Whatever - clearly if this pub were refurbished well and stocked good, local and regional ales and produce - and it were well run, suddenly you wouldn't have an eyesore in the village you'd have a vibrant, thriving community hub.

It's a terrible shame that so few people in positions of authority have the vision to support local people who care and campaign for their community amenities and assets that pubs really are.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SEXIST CAMRA LEAFLET SHOCK!: Free £20 Real Ale Voucher!

Are You Thirsty For More?

Campaign for Real Ale CAMRA is being slagged off rotten in some places, mostly on blogs for publishing this leaflet headed 'Thirsty For More?' which they intended to distribute to student union entertainment venues all over Britain hoping to attract young members. It went badly wrong... If you'd like to join the 304 people who've signed it so far HERE is the link  I think it's a bit embarrassing but not for the same reasons as I oughtta:

It IS context is all.

IN the context of contemporary society the CAMRA leaflet is gauche not offensive and the outrage it's engendered is as silly as the leaflet. Google 'adverts with women' and click 'images'. I did. The first one that I got is an almost naked woman alongside with the slogan 'The cleaner you are, the dirtier you get' for new and improved Lynx shower gels.

The pub and drinks industry is run almost entirely by men, and it most certainly IS dismissive of women, and that needs to change. There is a LOT that is wrong about the industry but the misogyny in the sector doesn't live in St Albans, home to CAMRA.

I'm sure, in fact I know, CAMRA head office aren't prone to boorish or laddish behaviour of any kind. Generally they are polite, careful, cautious and risk averse with an academic slant. They use words carefully. They try to anticipate how their work will be interpreted out of context.

CAMRA head office staff don't go about trying to offend anyone. And head office staff includes women, Campaigns are organised by Emily Ryans.

The leaflet has been pulled, this ructious should go away. There are far more serious issues of fairness and social wrongs that people should be attacking now instead of CAMRA

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Future of British Pubs is In a Basket on a Slate... with various ramekins.

How low can a pubco go?

When it comes to presentation All Bar One (the ONE bit signifying one of the seventeen brands of pubs from Mitchells & Butlers that this specialist anodyne pub creator is responsible for in around 3.000 outlets all over the UK)  take the biscuit to a new level. Just in from one of my colleagues in the pub business is this photograph from an All Bar One table top:

With thanks to Nick Higney
M&B we salute you.

Their Brands (some of them are 'non branded brands) Go on: Click on one or all of them. Take a tour of Britain's authentic pub tradition. Apart from the German ones of course.

Anyone prefer the days of the 'Big Six' breweries?

Raf Azzara posted in CAMRA unofficial on Facebook

Depends on how two dimensional a view you have. 

There is more variety of product across the bar over most of the country now but back then there was hope for market reform - and back then there was the raw material for exciting reform in the tens of 
thousands more pubs that existed then than do now.

Now the market is still foreclosed to the majority of new brewers, the retail price of beer has been manipulated upwards by a £1 a pint by private equity meddling in the beer tie and pubs are going out of business faster and faster to be replaced by anodyne mono food and drink dispense outlets indistinguishable from each other, mostly owned by ... one of the big six. 

And it's only going to get worse: The long term plans of all the major players are to asset strip their remaining estates to pay interest on the debts they raised to buy 'OUR' pubs in the first place and where they intend to 'grow and innovate' to invest in managed clone bar new builds as above.

Quite manifestly Mark Shirley has a better grasp of what's happened than you do Cornell and isn't into hagiography for the people who've brought the pub sector to its knees and destroyed the timeline of British Tradition and Cultural History while making themselves multi millionaires at the same time as bankrupting thousands of publicans and selling their pubs off to be Tesco's and betting shops.
It is NOT nonsense at all - changing the offer irreversibly? WHAT? Wake up. What are the BIG SIX doing now - to ALL their pubs? They're all the same blanded branded boring pastiches of what all pubs once were. These pubs all sell coffee, or have you tw
o not noticed? 

Good pubs are places of social interaction. They need to be relevant to what is happening in society. They have been prevented from evolving by Private Equity. 

It's YOU who are promoting nonsense. It is wrong, patronising, and proves ignorance of what really makes pubs tick and what has really been happening in the pub sector for the last quarter century... Whitbread dumped pubs along with brewing because they wanted to get into cleaner more easy to determine income streams and they flogged them off to invest in hotels and other stuff that didn't involve having to horse trade with tenants who had sitting contracts and draymen.

The best pubs, pubs that continue always to be successful, always serve PEOPLE what people want. They might be beer only boozers, they may be moving toward being restaurants but whatever they are they always remain RELEVANT to their customers. They do not let their premises turn into filthy sticky carpeted shit holes and their bogs into swamps. They offer products that people want. Tied pubs are restricted from keeping up to date because their freeholders get in the way through intransigence and aggressive profiteering wherever they can.

How much time have you spent behind bars serving people like you rather than in front of bars pontificating about what's wrong with them and telling the people behind them how to run their business?

New study proves pubs’ vital role in rural areas

11.10.2014 Good article in THE PRESS York about the value of pubs to rural communities

My comment in response to a load of curmudgeonly know-all arm chair critics having a go at this report on Ignazio Cabras' research into the value of rural pubs to their communities. All yypical 'nice work if you can get it' rubbish from people who think they know about pubs but who really have never given a second's consideration to what is happening to British culture all around them with the epidemic of pubs closing all around them unabated. Ironically there is a link right next to the piece to another article on a local Marston's pub that has been earmarked for conversion to a Tesco 'Another York pub to become a Tesco'.
Corner House York, Marston's pub to become Tesco pic The Press
You really could not make it up. It's staring us in the face and we still do not get what is happening in #GreatBRitishPubcoScam Here's an interesting take on Punch from Sean Liquorish - see fourth paragraph on

gravitydrip is the only person who's made a sensible observation above.

To others, so cynical about Ignazio Cabras' contribution to the preservation of British pubs ask yourselves WHY there are so many pubs closing forever all over the UK - 31 a week at the moment - and WHO is doing anything about it, other than to sit around criticising on forums like this one.

Then ask yourselves WHY does it take an ITALIAN to notice the damage of pubs' closing inflicts on communities when the British government does NOTHING to intervene in the Great British Pubco Scam that's behind the vast majority of pub closures when Britons like YOU sit around niggling about an academic who's actually DOING something about it?

Pubs are closing because pub companies and brewers are asset stripping the nation's most treasured most valued social capital - our pubs - in plain sight, right under our noses. We Britons take pubs far too much for granted because they are such an integral part of our lives.  Having run tens of thousands of pubs into the ground over the last quarter century through renting them out at usurious levels and supplying them with beer at up to DOUBLE open market prices, forcing thousands of individual publicans into financial failure, now Private Equity driven pub companies are cashing in on the residual property value of pubs for conversion to alternative use.

If you are at all interested in pubs and their true value you might like to read here

"Communities Fighting to Save Pubs Don't Have a Chance in the Face of The Great British Pubco Scam"

And the Northern Beer Blog. The salient piece is on Punch - who have sold three thousand pubs in the last five years and plan to sell at least another thousand. THEY aren't interested in pubs, people or places only in staying afloat.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Communities Fighting to Save Pubs Don't Have a Chance in the Face of The Great British Pubco Scam

Villagers ready for fight to save much loved pub

IN Worcester News First published Tuesday 7 October 2014
Old Bush Inn by John Law herefsxworcs Flickr
Firstly it's important to make clear that companies like Marston's exist purely to make profit. The fact that they do this through brewing and distributing beer and by owning pubs does not mean they look after pubs for the best interests of the thousands of tenants they rent pubs to under tied leases (where the publican has to buy beer at up to double the open market price through the beer tie) or the millions of customers the pubs serve. 
Busy meeting to Save the Pub
This pub was sold because Marston's is selling all their pubs that don't produce as much profit as their directly Managed pubs do (where they own the pub and employ all the staff directly), and they invest the cash raised from sales in expanding their managed and new build pubs. These pubs are always pastiche, imitations of authentic pubs which, apart from branding are impossible to tell apart from other pub companies' efforts in the same area (they're all at it - Greene King, Spirit, Mitchells & Butlers - there's absolutely loads of them, even the 'small family brewers' are trotting out the same anodyne carbon copy formula food and drink dispense units across the country) . This is all part of the Great British Pubco Scam where Private Equity is asset stripping traditional British pubs for their property value while wilfully destroying thousands of publicans' businesses, their livelihoods, their family stability and the enjoyment of the millions of people who have used their pubs as Valuable Community Assets for hundreds of years.

Earlier in 2014 Marston's sold more than 200 trading pubs to New River Retail who are in the process of converting them to other use, often into supermarkets, specifically to get around irritating issues like communities trying to prevent change of use when they hear their pub is going to be sold. ACV only comes into force when the owner puts the building up for sale... If change of use is planned by an existing owner the ACV status offers no protection at all. An example of this kind of activity designed to get around the small difficulty that ACV status confers on a building is that pub companies elsewhere - Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns - have begun renting their pubs direct to Tesco.

Second: Almost everything the article states about protection conferred by of Asset of Community Value is wrong:

ACV status does NOT impose charity status on a pub, or any other community asset, and ACV has nothing to do with the Charities Commission.

Once granted, ACV status puts a six month moratorium on the sale of a property by its existing owner to another owner. AS the Bush Inn is already owned by the person who wants to develop the pub ACV has no impact here - the pub has ALREADY been sold. The horse bolted when the pub was bought at auction.

ACV status does not OBLIGE the seller to accept an offer from the community who raised the ACY even IF the community has raised finance and made the highest offer for the pub/asset.

From earlier comments it's clear that this pub would thrive if properly invested in and well managed.

While I know nothing about this pub directly these things can be stated with confidence as the same thing is happening to pubs all over the UK where 31 pubs are closing forever every week. It is a national crisis taking place in plain view of us all but largely ignored because between them the pubco's and tied pub owning brewers like Marston's have deliberately divided and conquered the nation and bamboozled public opinion about pubs through their industry mouthpiece the British Beer and Pub Association - their trade body who put out press releases continuously telling that pubs are closing because of dozens of problems that amount to a perfect storm for the pub sector.

BBPA says pubs are closing because of external economic factors like - the smoking ban, beer duty excalator, tax generally, business rates, competition from cheap supermarket booze, changing consumer habits, bad weather (seriously!), red tape, social media, television and home entertainment. There are a million reasons why people are abandoning pubs - none of which are the sky high prices the BBPA's members charge their tens of thousands of publican tenants for their Tied rents and wholesale beer supplies they oblige them to buy at up to DOUBLE open market prices... Leaving the majority of pubs in the UK to compete against the Managed Divisions of the pubco's while selling over priced beers they cannot make a living profit out of (because the pubco/brewer makes all the profit) in premises that are run down, dilapidated and not fir for purpose because the publicans don't earn enough profit to be able to invest in their businesses and the fabric of the buildings they have total financial responsibility for maintaining under fully repairing and insuring leases on the buildings the pubco/family brewers own but have not spent any money on for thirty years.

The BBPA never points out that pubs are closing primarily because its own members' force usurious charges on their tenants and they are profiteering on beer supply prices. It is pubco's sweating assets that cause most publicans in Britain (57% of all Tied Tenants) to earn less than £10K a year, usually between two people - Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) figures.

Good luck with the campaign