Monday, March 23, 2015

UK Government Performs Miracle: Saves Great British Community Pub Sector with Press Release

For your general interest

Cheers all round for Community Pubs Day

Ministers announce measures designed to bolster the Great British Pub and protect it for future generations.

This government (ie taxpayer) sponsored press release is pure propaganda; populist pro pub protection propaganda the government is pouring out to encourage people to vote for them... the reality is that outside a few smug policy wonks and politicians no one is saying 'Cheers' or celebrating 'community pubs day' because in reality nothing material at all has actually happened.

1) A community raising an ACV on a pub does NOT save pubs on its own 2) Nor does the added protection of an article 4 planning direction being put on the ACV application

3) Bottom line is that most pubs communities try to save become alternative use before they have a chance to get ACV done

4) Even when ACV is granted community is almost always outsmarted and financially outgunned by developers and owners of pubs who want to cash in on their asset value for alternative use - they are professionals, that is their job.

5) The beer duty cuts have done nothing for the consumer other than not INCREASE the price of a pint of beer directly - every 1p per pint reduction in the last three budgets has been accompanied by a per pint increase of between 5p and 15p by major brewers and pubco's. Beer at the pump has gone UP every time the Chancer, sorry the Chancellor, has crowed that the price of beer for the common man has come down.

6) While making lots of people feel good all the duty cuts do in practice is give a huge cash windfall to the big brewers who see their profits rise without lifting a finger.

7) More money for the big brewer boys with limousines to throw at keeping the status quo the way it is and making sure the craft beer revolution never gets into the majority of British pubs.

Friday, March 20, 2015

If the Future Ain't Green There Ain't No Future

Funny this. I'm sure I heard this somewhere about five years ago and it was Jonathon Porritt who said it. But whenever I search I can't find a reference to the statement as a quote.

Looks like I said it first then.

Beer Duty Cuts Bollocks

Unless beer duty cuts result in more people buying beer in pubs there is no impact on the economy other than a significant wind fall for brewers as their tax payments drop by millions. Beer duty is levied at the producer not the retailer and a 1p cut is ALWAYS absorbed by the brewers putting their wholesale prices up around the same time as a budget. The cuts NEVER get passed onto the consumer which is where they would have impact on sales so the assertion that such cuts increase economic activity and demand for beer and invents new jobs is completely disingenuous and false.

This is all part of the Great British Pubco Scam. George Osborne is a key figure in it, along with David Cameron he's been blocking anti tied pubco regulation for years.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Time at the bar: can Britain's pubs survive?

OK article by Elizabeth Anderson in the Telegraph, missing most of the points as usual, on 12/013/15

In an industry high on tax and short on good cheer, it's survival of the fittest for Britain's pubs.

Elizabeth, the Fat Lady is not singing for tied publicans just yet - the legislation doesn't come into effect until later this year... and until it's been given Royal Assent how it's going to affect the pub sector isn't clear.

Tulse Hill Hotel - Recent proof that success in pubs is about investment
NO publicans around the country are holding their breath for ANOTHER cut in beer duty - because the legal reality is that duty cuts impact on brewers' bottom line not on retailers and the consumer, millions of pub customers, NEVER see the price of a pint fall when duty is cut. IN FACT the most recent beer duty cut of 1p per pint arrived just before the brewers put UP the price of their beer by 5p a pint so the net effect was for the Press and Media pack to be triumphantly trumpeting the price of the nation's pints going down when actually publicans everywhere were chalking the price of a pint UP by 10p.

The reason so many pubs are failing is they have been abandoned by customers because they are not fit for purpose. They aren't relevant to the people who are on their doorstep NOT because customers don't want pubs anymore but because the pubs have become tragically run down due to chronic under-investment by their owners, tied pubco's, for twenty five years since the Beer Orders.

Essentially the majority of the British pub sector is owned by giant pubco's whose 'low cost entry business model' has comprehensively asset stripped the national pub estate, and Britain's history, traditions, cultural heritage and very Sense of Place, for the last quarter century.

The pub sector is in crisis because of gross willful neglect by companies purporting to be the custodians of our heritage, corporations run by accountants designed to return the maximum amount of profit on the least possible amount of structural investment in the pub estates they own.

Of course while the majority is in decline because of bad business there are many able exceptions to the prevailing rule of the tied pubco hegemony which states the lie, most prominently pumped out by the pubco's propaganda machine the British Beer and Pub Association BBPA that pubs are no longer economically viable because of a 'perfect storm of market conditions'; Peter Borg  Neale's right, the pub sector lacks investment - his own pub group proves (and there are significant numbers of other smaller pub companies around the UK proving the same) that pubs that are properly invested in and well run are financially successful - but the elephant in the room is still the beer tie and the pubco's and family brewers who abuse it comprehensively.

All parts of the Great British Pubco Scam which has taken 25 years to bring our pub sector to its knees. This period of unfettered free market greed (made possible, stimulated, protected and legally sanctioned by successive government's continued support of the beer tie) will be looked back on as a period of unprecedented neglect of the most iconic, socially valuable assets of Britain's cultural fabric - a period where we presided over a white collar cultural crimewave that has gripped the landscape and is leaving indelible scars that will be felt for generations to come...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I've Been Saying Keep It In The Ground For More Than A Decade

See the Guardian Keep It In The Ground

Maybe I haven't been shouting loud enough. Maybe I'm too polite. 

I've been touting the proposition for a crowd funded fossil fuel free pub company for over ten years ... it will prove that paradigms can change and we can run business and the planet sustainably without horsehair shirts... It's come close to getting funding several times but never quite got there. When you need to change a paradigm there's a lot of resistance.

Pubs. Pah. Who cares about pubs? They're closing everywhere. So I got involved in setting up a campaign to lobby government to regulate the way massive pubco's are asset stripping OUR pubs and along with them destroying British traditions, heritage and culture, our very way of life and Sense of Place. That's turning into legislation now - the Lords are having their final reading of the legislation before the end of March 2015.

It'll help pubs a bit and some communities won't lose their pubs to be turned into Tesco or Coop Local Stores but it won't stop the world warming.

The People's Pub Partnership will though. All the figures stack up. There's no rocket science about it. Just no one before has been thoughtful enough to consider that it's possible to make pubs run without any fossil fuel dependency...

To The Guardian and its readers: get behind the project - help crowd fund this ground breaking proposition now!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Pub models

"Pubcos may have been guilty of some poor historic practices, but much had already been done to remedy any imbalances."

Pubcos were guilty, they ARE guilty and as long as the tie exists they will continue to asset strip Britain's heritage, traditions and very sense of place in serial acts of abuse of publicans and the pubs and places they serve in what amounts to nothing less than a corporate cultural crimewave of historic proportions.

People don't go to pubs when they've been made irrelevant to contemporary expectations and ridiculously expensive through these errant companies appalling business practices. The pubco's have no shame and the proof is in the thousands of run down, dilapidated and abandoned pubs littering the UK landscape due to criminal neglect through a quarter century of chronic under-investment by accountants and solicitors driving pubcos by remote control off spreadsheets

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Someone reckons they know: The future of pubs (if CAMRA keeps winning)

Don't know what 'Velvet Glove Iron Fist' has to do with pubs

but HEY it takes all sorts of experts to come forth on the pub sector... well written and wrong piece about the future of the pub sector...

My comment below here. I'm just a failed publican, what the hell do I know?

The only solution IS government intervention. Pubco's have no interest in pubs, only in the salaries of their directors and the perfunctory need to repay interest on debt they will never, ever repay the capital on. The Beer orders were nefariously fiddled with as they went through parliament and lords and through into legislation. They were made to have loopholes that pubco's could germinate and grow out of. Pubco's DO exploit tenants. Pubco's asset strip pubs. The evidence is all over the British landscape in the thousands of chronically underinvested pubs from Land's End to John O'Groats.

None of it is complicated, what is happening to pubs is a low grade, in plain sight, corporate scam on a massive scale. Pubco's charge over market rent and up to double the price for supplies that tenants would pay if they were free of tie. This makes the businesses tenants try to make a profit out of in the pubco's massive dilapidated estates of shamefully neglected pubs fail. It is no more complicated than that. When one business fails another publican comes along and sets up shop, convinced the reason the previous tenant failed was because they didn't know enough, work hard enough, spent their money on the wrong things, had the wrong attitude, appealed to the wrong type of clientele - whatever there's a thousand reasons why a new tenant takes on an already serially failed business and sets up shop in a pub only to fail a year or two down the line... When so many tenants have churned through a pub never investing enough to arrest the long term decline in the pub's fortunes that the pub has become unlettable - ie the pub is in such dire condition that there is no one foolish enough to persuade themselves that spit, elbow grease and thirty grand or so will be enough to make hay - then the pubco decides to flog off the freehold 'asset' for cash to pay down the interest on their gargantuan debts... the debts they have no intention of ever repaying, the debts they raised to buy the estates in the first place.

Then the pubco's fall back on their lexicon of fertile excuses for why the pub failed and is 'no longer economically viable' and say to the world 'times are changing and there's nothing we can do about it, sadly we have to sell it is the only business decision we can take that makes financial sense... the pubco's are shifting about 1,500 pubs a year between them like this.

As for surveyors and rent do you know what parallel rent assessment is? Oh and by the way - the people who write the statute are publicans who know what is happening... not academics with grand naive ideas about how the pub sector works, or doesn't.

Anyway. The only force strong enough to slow this assault on our traditions, history, way of life and our very sense of place IS government. And they aren't that interested really. IF they WERE interested they would have acted twenty years ago and got rid of the Tie altogether. There's no place for it in contemporary society. The beer tie and the tied pub sector is a gross anachronism, a playground of unsupervised crony capitalism for dull witted bullies to play out their poor quality business ideas secure in the knowledge that even people who love pubs, beer and the people and places they serve, people like you - get it wrong all the time and end up protecting the people that are committing a cultural crimewave under the nation's noses... the pubco's, the pub killers.

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.