Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Berwick Shellfish Company

Berwick Shellfish Company. Fantastic European regional supplier of fresh crustaceans to all the nations!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

THE problem IS the Tie. The Beer Tie has Killed the Pub Sector

THE problem IS the Tie.

As long as the Tie exists the Tie WILL BE ABUSED.  Endemic abuse of the tie underlies every problem in the pub sector.

The English obsession with maintenance of the Status Quo, ironically partly because of deep seated fear about losing our cherished heritage and tradition has paradoxically protected the pub sector from the direct impact of external market forces and left a largely moribund, stagnant playground for private equity corporate entities to asset strip from at will, unsupervised.

This has meant there has been a stifling of innovation and evolution in the tied pub sector and meant the 'free of tie sector' (no sector is 'free' of the pernicious, pervasive influence of the 'Tie') has lagged in innovative practice too - without any true competition - and this has created the declining market we've all fallen into like a sink hole opening beneath us.

"Abuse" of the tie (its very existence) has forced the Tied Pub Sector into eating itself as the only means of the short term survival of the only entities that profit from it; Private Equity driven Corporations that have profit, not pubs, people or places, as their sole point of purpose.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Cooperative Society Puts On Pubco Jackboots

Irony of Ironies the Great British Pubco SCAM has taken an impossible to believe but very real perverse private equity twist...

@NewRiverRetail @MarstonsPubs @CooperativesUK in Community pub closing spree

New River Retail and Marston's Pub Company have targeted hundreds of viable, community pubs all over the UK that have sitting tenant publicans working and living in them, that are not making enough profit for the private equity hedge fund freeholders ... They want to maximise return on investment by squeezing out the publicans, closing the pubs and converting them to alternative use... They are paying off publicans and demanding that they HELP get change of use by supporting planning applications.

Stourbridge News published the 'BUYOFF' letter from New River Retail. It specifically instructs publicans not to tell anyone about their plans

The report was repeated in other Worcestershire titles further afield... And picked up by the Publicans Morning Advertiser but has not hit mainstream press where it needs to be.

The closing of dozens of viable pubs is a cultural crimewave which I know many people who care about publicans, their pubs and the people and communities they serve are very concerned about. They understand that community local pubs are a defining part of British society's very Sense of Place, recognised internationally as Homes Away from Home

We need to mobilise, This IS War. Our pubs are being slaughtered and we're being hung out to dry by Chianti swilling private equity hedge funders... and ignorant cooperative imitators. We need to mobilise a national campaign against this national cultural crimewave.

@CAMRA_Official is aiding and abetting by doing nothing

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Great British Pubco Scam Runs DEEP

Pub companies, pub tenants & pub closures: background history - Commons Library Standard Note

You will note, if you wade through all of this stuff about pub closures published on the Government website, that according to the GOD of PUBS (just like everywhere else, there isn't one) there are more free of tie pubs closing (always) than there are Tied Pubs closing THEREFORE the Tied Pub sector actually protects pubs from failure, closing and conversion to alternative use. It is ALL a lie, None of it is true. it is a fit up, a misrepresentation... A SCAM:

There are no accurate stats/data for pub closures that are permanent; just as there is none for the numbers of business churn within pubs that still are trading... As far as the Tied Pub Sector is concerned it is like this:

- As long as a pub has a tenant in it then that pub is a successful pub that HAS NOT failed - the fact that a pub has had seven tenants/lessee publicans in ten years is absolutely immaterial to any pubco - IT IS A PUB THAT REMAINS OPEN (even when it is boarded up waiting for new licensees to take it on and become the next failure in that pub... It does not make sense because it is meant to prove that water IS flowing up hill; and so far this works for the pub sector.

The pubco's and brewers don't publish any sort of closure information in full and ONLY use their own knowledge of their estate activity to suit their own ends... Companies like CGA Strategy and Mintel depend entirely on taking data from these sources to extrapolate the state of the market and, as we all know, BBPA exists merely to regurgitate and reproduce the cooked books that are pushed out by the pubco propaganda hegemony -

THe VAST majority of pubs that fail and come onto the market for sale suitable for conversion to alternative use are, manifestly, clearly, logic demands and observation confirms, EX TIED PUBS that are BY DEFAULT Free of Tie when they are put on the market. Ergo MORE Free of Tie Pubs 'fail' than do Tied pubs as far as the 'OFFICIAL' story goes but the reality is that FAR MORE Tied Pubs close forever than do Free of Tie...

It's just another part of the Great British Pubco Scam...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nothing Ever Changes in this Backwater of Civilisation: The Tied Pub Sector

Nothing changes in this backwater industry the Tied Pub Sector.

I first posted on the Morning Advertiser in February 2008 to describe my considerable consternation at 'the usual whitewash of a whitewash' in reporting about abuse of tied Publicans after You and Yours interviewed three industry leaders about the causes of the avalanche of pubs everywhere in Britain and while absolutely NOTHING was being done to prevent it then, absolutely NOTHING has changed since then. IN the forums of The Publican's Morning Advertiser the same Tied Paradigm deniers are denying what is happening and there are still many people who cannot post openly for fear of exposing themselves to abuse by their tied pub freeholders. 
Tied tenants are abused routinely through being over rented and over charged for their wholesale supplies - and on top of this they are routinely bullied mercilessly by pubco employees who treat tenants as Serfs, intimidating them with threats of eviction, fines for 'buying out' when they didn't 'buy out' all manner of outrageous stuff that people who haven't experienced it directly simply cannot believe happens in the 21st century.  All tied pubco's and 'family brewers' do this, it's part of their modus operandi, and everyone knows it and most people deny it because one way or another they profit from this state of affairs or their livelihoods depend on it... And they will not defer from it as they will harm themselves financially, or worse, by doing so. This is why it is in everyone's interests, except the tenants who have no voice and fear speaking our, for nothing to change.

There can be no 'real' even balance and objectivity when reporting on the tied pub sector because of its nature.  It is an artificial market operating as a cartel that is protected by habit, tradition and established law that, in itself, has been written to enable endemic abuse of the tied system.

The 'tied pub lease business model' has long been abused by corporate entities whose behaviour is sociopathic and impossible to change because of habit, tradition, internal competition within the closed market and because of indebtedness in some parts that has completely removed any incentive or possibility for innovation in the tied pub sector by the businesses that lead it.

PMA is in an impossible position where there is no balance to be reporting on - PMA is the main outlet for Tied pub sector 'news' that is supplied by essentially insolvent sociopathic corporate entities struggling for survival and their placemen.

There can be no real investigative journalism in a situation where one side is a corporate cartel and the other is a rag tag mix of thousands of individuals running on financial rat wheels in the cages that are their dilapidated, over rented and usuriously supplied unprofitable pubs owned by the other side.

The tied pub sector is an anachronistic unfit for purpose medieval backwater of completely unacceptable feudal business practices hiding behind legal protections and a completely skewed misty eyed national cultural view of what public house traditions are which they are no longer that would in any other country see its protagonists in jail for corporate fraud and white collar crimes against culture.

All the protestations from people who post here that there is another reality are bunkum. They are deniers, liars, placemen themselves or plain blind.

The pub sector:

Borough landlords offered cash in return for support on pub plans


Excellent article - well reported, REAL investigative journalism for once when covering pubs and a good follow up here 

It IS depressing. The Coop is the new Tesco. How desperately ironic, as the Coop movement is at the front of the nation's defence against this kind of community busting where pubs are asset stripped and converted into uses that no one around them really want... without any consultation with the people who use them. This is ONLY possible because of pathetically weak planning law around pubs which are in the same Use Class as, of course, shops. They are on people's doorsteps and cheap because the pubco's who own them have not invested in them for decades - instead forcing their tenants to maintain them through usurious leases that are fully repairing and insuring... ever wonder why all those pubs have buddleias growing out the roof? It's because they haven't made a profit for over a decade and the tenants can't afford to look after them.

The government put together: "A package of measures to support ‘community ownership’ of valuable local pubs." If you'd like to read the whole press release search for:

Package of support for the Great British pub

... and it'll show up on the govt website. The dreadful irony is that the Coop is seen as the way forward for community pubs that are under EXACTLY the kind of threat that the Marston's New River Retail Coop deal has put dozens of pubs under. They've already converted loads of them and are doing loads more... The same thing happens everywhere - the publicans get squeezed out one way or another, the community knows nothing about it until it's WAY to late to do anything about it, the community then raises a fuss, expends lots of energy trying to save their local and then get completely rolled over by Private Equity and the whole system and they get a Coop Store out of the bargain... This is what Coop says about itself on its website: "We're proud of our history. Helping communities thrive" Not quite so straightforward when it comes to pubs...

Around FORTY pubs have become community run cooperatives in the last decade. With this deal Coop has done over more than FIFTY with a sweep of a pen in one year... WELL DONE COOP!

As for the pubco concerned Marston's are flogging off hundreds, literally, of viable, working pubs with sitting tenants and using the proceeds to invest in new, managed pubs they can control totally - at every level - to maximise profit. These are the pubs that are indistinguishable from any other corporate behemoth food and drink dispense destinations that all pubco's and most 'family brewers' are investing in heavily now as they shed their tens of thousands of 'independent' tied lease pubs their business practices have run into the ground over the last quarter century, as above.

New River Retail is the private equity hedge fund middle man... Making it all possible. Brokering Britain's community retail pubs into community retail shops. Maximising value for everyone, except everyone who cares about these things. Most people in fact.

Whatever. It is a cultural crime. And pretty much all the People can do is stand by while it happens. This was Hilaire Belloc's take on the same kind of thing happening to our cultural heritage and traditions over a hundred years ago, "From This and that on Inns", 1912:

"Change your hearts, or you will lose your inns, and you will deserve to have lost them. But when you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves - for you will have lost the last of England"

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Legal Decent and Honest

Enterprise agrees to end lease of anti-pubco campaigner Val Spencer

As 'reported' By Rob Willock, 11-Feb-2015 in the mouthpiece of the pubco's.

If you know what has been happening behind the scenes in government. If you follow what Enterprise have been doing to prepare for restructuring - all on public record - and can with half an eye read between the lines of the published history of LifelongLandlady leading up to this 'article'; This says everything anyone needs to know about the toxic British Tied Pub Lease business model.

When you KNOW what has been happening there's nothing that Enterprise says here that doesn't catch in the craw.

This is why the pub sector needs radical reform.

Posted by J Mark Dodds
13 February 2015 | 00h33

Progressive beer duty 'forcing family brewers out of business'

James Wallin, M&C Report, 12-Feb-2015

Hard not to be critical here.

Can pretty much guarantee whenever a British 'Family Brewer' makes a statement there's something of a sob and familiar hand wringing about it... inevitable in this backwater of feudal business practices where these companies, many of them Plc 'Family Brewers' of course get the red carpet treatment by government... Batemans' aren't not going to be going to the wall any time soon really, given the expansion plans.

Underneath the murk out there in the real world there is an open market. Somewhere. Where people make a living without protection of state handouts and ancient inherited privileges.

ACV and A4D Together Barely Even a Fig Leaf

From the Pubco's Morning Advertiser. Ellie Bothwell 11/02/2015
Changes to ACV Planning Law to be laid 'before General Election'

Protecting pubs isn't a very popular thing with government is it?  Certainly isn't a popular subject with the 'Pubs' Minister' or any other junior from DCLG who pump out hot air and no substance about pubs' protection in planning.

ACV and A4D provide nothing more than a fig leaf.

Stephen Williams and Kris Hopkins ought to get out more often, to pubs that is, and talk to the people who are being affected by the thousands of pubs that are going to the wall every year 'divested' by pubco's and private freeholders cashing in on property prices that make them worth more as a pile of rubble or a Coop Local than as a social hub and heart of community.

They won't bother with anything like that of course... Like Brandon Lewis and Andrew Griffiths the men in government who are named as having responsibility and care for the oldest profession in the world after being politicians just don't cut the mustard beyond saying they do things that they don't, actually, do.

Good thing there's an election coming. Whatever happens there's going to be a changing of the chocolate fire guard.

Posted by J Mark Dodds

12 February 2015 | 23h47

Thursday, February 05, 2015

CAMRA has just done a big shit on its own doorstep

This is 5 February 2015 update on the cultural disaster wreaking its way across Britain's pub sector. I've not been able to make a proper post for ages - There's been too much going on. And there still is... so it is going to be a summary of several months of nonsense and this bad move by CAMRA came up yesterday: CAMRA named the odious MP for Punch and Marston's 'Parliamentarian of the Year' and lots of CAMRA members are really, really annoyed. 

The steady flow of pub failures around the UK has become a roaring torrent. Tesco have stepped down from being the villains of the piece, mopping up the collateral damage created by the tied pubco's race to insolvency and oblivion brought on by debt baggage in the Great British Pubco Scam. That baton has passed to the Co-op, the organisation the government likes to trumpet as being a key part in the 'raft of measures' it's providing to communities to help save that great British institution the British Pub.

Back in November there were encouraging signs that the riptide of private equity avarice engulfing tied publicans and washing away their pubs was turning from them and toward the pubco's: On18/11/2014 a historic vote for pubs happened in Parliament when MPs broke a three line whip as the Small Business Bill came up for scrutiny with an amendment for a 'Market Rent Only option' to be brought into law for tied lease publicans - a measure that will, if it ever gets into law as it was worded, effectively be the beginning of the end of the anachronistic beer tie that is closing pubs everywhere.  The government was so strongly against this amendment that it WHIPPED its MPs to vote AGAINST the amendment and in the end a majority voted FOR the amendment - breaking democracy into the commons in a way that few people with a living memory have ever seen... A Victory for the common people against the Establishment...  This was SO unprecedented it broke into the mainstream press and media and the next day got headlines everywhere from broadsheets to red tops and was repeated in local and national radio and TV news bulletins - coverage of the pub sector that no one has seen since the Beer Orders in 1989. It was widely rumoured that it was such a bad defeat that government would object to the amendment - I still have no idea how that is possible in a democracy but HEY I am just an unusually well informed common commoner WTF do I know about politics in the UK? Not enough, and too much, I discover.

The very next day William Hague announced to Greg Mulholland in the Commons that the government would allow the amendment to go to the Lords Unopposed - completely unexpected - and backed up the depth of the historic victory even more. Being cynical I surmised this was because the level of news coverage was a surprise to the suits in charge. IF the bill had been opposed going to the Lords this massive media spotlight  would have wavered around thinking 'Hang On Why is the Government So Hell Bent on Stopping the Abuse of Thousands of Publicans Who the Majority of MPs Have Just Supported Democratically in a History Making Vote?' ... 'Hang on... What Are They Hiding?' and the news would have turned into investigative reporting and something would have got out... Instead Billy Hague's announcement was reported and the news pack moved on to brighter more shiny things that could be written about and reported on off the cuff without in depth research.

Now the clause has been in front of the Lords three times... I have a lot to say about this but of that later. Enough to mention that law making in the UK is a baffling process and makes a lot of sense that the rest of the world seems to have taken up the lead and copied much of the nonsense we so thoroughly embrace here, hundreds of years of nonsense...

What the Burton Mail front page really should have said 

CAMRA have been up there in the thick of it all.

They gave the MP for Punch and Marston's, Andrew Griffiths, their annual 'Pub Parliamentarian Award' for his service to opposing every bit of campaigning CAMRA has ever done to try to make the situation for publicans, their pubs and the people and places they serve, fairer, better, and cheaper for the consumer...

It caused a Kerfuffle

CAMRA members and publicans all over the show HATE Andrew Griffiths - he's not called the MP for Punch and Marston's for nothing. Even though his constituency is somewhere like Burton and Uttoxeter.

In their national magazine, BEER, CAMRA have taken a full page ad from Enterprise Inns - as above - asking CAMRA members to talk to them about their pubs (BAD IDEA)

In the Manchester Ale Festival Punch took a full page ad on the back of the programme - with an offer of £1,500 to anyone who successfully introduced a friend to a Punch pub who went on to signing a tied lease with them - in other words signing their financial death warrant

ONTO CAMRA's taking full page ads from Pubco's - like this one from Enterprise Inns in this month's BEER publication:
Full page ad in CAMRA's BEER mag latest issue
Just in case you are not aware of how much money Enterprise make on its sale of cask ale to its leasholders it is conservatively £40net per cask they charge MORE than the publican could buy the ale direct if their lease allowed it. Multiply that by 750,000 and then consider how much ETI pay in interest on their debts then understand why Enterprise Publicans don't like Enterprise. Or CAMRA when it supports them.Also, once you do the calculation above you will then realise why Enterprise Inns HAVE to sell at LEAST 300 pub freeholds for alternative use, every year, just to meet the interest payments on the loans they raised to buy the pubs in the first place - the loans they will never, ever, ever be able to repay EVER.

And THEN consider that the annual rent the majority of individual lessees pay to Enterprise is MORE than the cost of repaying a commercial mortgage on the true value of the pub they run their business, their life, their family and their future out of...

And THEN IF you take out the COSTS of the beer tie - how much more it is to buy beer through the Enterprise profiteering supply chain - supply chain that generally doesn't allow you to buy beer from your micro brewer just up the road - at £40 - £70 a tub more than it would cost you if you went direct.

Then you see that the beer tie is a scam and it is making pub businesses fail all over the country, bankrupting their lessees, and closing pubs and changing the British landscape and society forever, just to pay the pubco's debts.

It is not on. And it is a scam. And CAMRA know this and they are, actually, helping it along by being 'diplomatic' and 'statesmanlike'
And then consider that (failed) ex tied publicans like me, andJohn and others have been making these very clear FACTS very clear to CAMRA and to government for close on a decade (I first met CAMRA HQ on this specific in early 2008 before Fair Pint launched) and that in this time I and people like me have been banned from the Morning Advertiser for pointing out that the publication does not present a balanced view of the market - and THEN people like me are called 'one eyed trolls' and all the rest of it.

And then consider that I personally (and I don't exactly travel the length and breadth of the country touting for tied publicans) have met literally dozens of tied lessees who are too scared, afraid, terrorised, to comment in public - or even to join a secret facebook forum of other lessees - for fear of being caught dissenting by their pubco.

And then you have an inkling of the depth of the scam, yet how much it is largely denied by CAMRA HQ.

CAMRA top brass are academic, remote and out of the loop they simply cannot get their head around the seriousness of what white collar criminal pubco execs are doing to our culture.