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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tied Publicans, Pub Tenants and Licensees: is THIS Happening to YOU?

If you're a tied publican you'll be familiar with this story... If you're a pub customer and know a tied publican tell them to read this and think about joining Licensees Supporting Licensees...

If you're a publican who has a lease with a Tied Pubco or a tenancy with one of the 'Family Brewers' you're probably going through something like I did at my pub where I was landlord for sixteen years...  I described some of this experience in my submission to the 2011 Select Committee looking into the behaviour of pub companies toward their tenants here: Pub Companies - Business, Innovation and Skills

This is sixteen years' experience of day to day abuse by a pub company toward one of its many thousands of tenants - the people whose effort and industry create ALL of the wealth and profit the pubco or family brewer takes as their own, and for whose benefit the publicans run 'their own low cost entry pub business' for. I wasn't trying to say what happened to me was outrageous - even though, by any measure, it was. What I wanted to show is that this happens ALL the time to thousands of people - publicans - and that it is fundamentally wrong...
This Pub is Temporarily Closed
If you're a tied tenant or a customer of a pub that's tied - you need to know about Licensees Supporting Licensees. It's a facebook forum of publicans - down to earth, sharp, regular people who work hard creating the social oil that keeps Britain's pubs running... if you recognise any of this you should join... it's a private group, for obvious reasons, by invitation only. Hundreds of licensees there and together it's a fantastic resource and friendship group... You can register your interest in joining HERE You need a facebook account to do this, sorry, I know plenty of people who hate FB but it really is the only way to get people together without costing huge amounts. If you don't use FB already then stop being stubborn, take the plunge, sign up to FB and put all your privacy settings on maximum for general public and APPLY to join LSL NOW!

Written evidence submitted by J Mark Dodds

1. SUMMARY

1.1 Pub companies do not do what they say on the tin. My tied pub turns over £750,000 a year; almost four times as much as the national pub average. I am a model, multi award-winning, entrepreneurial tenant. Even S&NPC say this. This "success" is down to my own long experience in the catering industry, my personal flair, endeavour, vision, energy, hard work and substantial financial investment in "my own" business. S&NPC has not spent a penny on the premises I have owned a tied lease on for over fifteen years; In the next few weeks I will be made bankrupt with over £300,000 debts to Inland Revenue, business rates, my bank, lease hire companies, myself (the biggest loser) and to S&NPC, the pubco whose inabilities, intransigence and poor business practices created this hole. My suppliers will not be affected as my payments to them are all up to date. But eleven full time and five part time staff will lose their jobs and a local institution will come to the end of what would in free of tie conditions be a continuing business serving its community.

2. THE REALITY

2.2 The tied pub industry is totally morally bankrupt at the top and that is why it has descended to the state of disarray that it's in. The people responsible for these events turn a blind eye because it suits them, their pay packets, their bonuses and their pension schemes. Simon Townsend recently told me "I may not be liked but I AM a gentleman". He's lying to himself, as does everyone employed by pubcos. It's the only way to work for them.

2.3 The behaviour of landlords who work this way is quite simply completely unacceptable in contemporary society. These Rachmanesque tales are the practices of early Capitalism unbridled. Elsewhere this could be described as entrapment into bonded labour through deception and misrepresentation. We hear news of people being brought into the UK illegally on the promise of getting respectable work cleaning homes or as nannies and being tricked into work in conditions of slavery. It makes headline news. In our industry it's accepted as pedestrian routine.

2.4 Bringing up "caveat emptor", as everyone does, to skirt around the true causes of serial business failure (churn) in the tied pub sector is wrong. It puts distance between the legally weak position of bankrupted lessees against the absolute wrongness of the behaviour directed toward them by their abusive landlords and is splitting hairs. Unemotionally and objectively, this type of professional behaviour is just very bad business practice. By no measure of contemporary expectations of professional standards in any area of commercial activity can this behaviour be condoned.

2.5 When property companies overstate income and understate overheads when marketing their buildings, as pubcos do all the time, it is misrepresentation pure and simple. Pubcos have been completely free to do this for the decades since they were established because there is no industry arbiter, no scrutiny, no objective overview no one to pull them up and make them pay for their essentially illegal activities.

2.6 The tied pub sector has been allowed to get off the hook of regulation for well over a decade beyond its natural life expectancy (the beer tie was supposed to wither on the vine by 1998) because politicians have been concerned not to compound the dreadful error of the Beer Orders and then being lied to by pubcos, the BBPA and most other bodies whose hands are in each others' pockets enough to be convinced that intervention would lead to the closure of even more pubs than are already being shuttered up forever all over the UK.

3. THE STORY

3.1 The story is mine but its pattern will be broadly familiar to Select Committee members who've read pubco inquiry evidence before. It's the story of thousands of tied tenants whose businesses and lives have been destroyed by the "tied business model" leaving a landscape of boarded up pubs in their wake. The pub industry is being bled dry while the nation looks on, unaware of the tawdry business reality that sits underneath the scenes of devastation of a significant part of our society's particular heritage.

3.2 I am about to be made bankrupt. On 28 June 2011 I am in court for a forfeiture hearing for my lease. I cannot defend myself in law; I cannot meet my rent demands anymore; my cash flow has run out; my business has been bled dry. This is the outcome of my 2005 rent review where S&NPC applied to increase from £54,000 to £96,000 when I argued vociferously, with open book accounting, that any increase at all would put me out of business. S&NPC simply ignored all my evidence, as do pubcos with all their tenants at rent review. Having almost been put out of business by my 2000 rent review where it went up by 68% I vowed that I would see the process through arbitration and to the bitter end, hoping against hope that a eventually sustainable rent would be settled on through the construct of the law and common logic. In the event the review was legally resolved in October 2008 and I lost, owing S&NPC a total of £126,000 back rent and legal costs. Going through arbitration cost me £47,000 and contributed to my current debts.

3.3 As with all tied lessees, my pubco earns more than I do out of my business. It has consistently taken well in excess of £150,000 a year while the paltry £9,000 income I paid myself at the beginning as a budding entrepreneur fell steadily as the pubco's rent and beer charges increased; unsustainably. I have not taken a salary from my pub for the last six years, since my last rent review, because there has not been any profit for me to draw on. The last rent review has put me out of business.

3.4 Pubcos do not support tenants at all. Pubcos' relationship with tied tenants is entirely adversarial. Evidence proves that Codes of Practice exist only virtually, to be downloaded in pdf and admired from afar. Try finding tenants who have a good word to say, or a good experience, about a relationship with a pubco. The only tenants who support pubcos cautiously are those who have so much to lose thy dare not be open about the reality. Typically these will be bosses of multiple operators who hold a lot of tied leases... their businesses are in such a precarious financial position that it is not in the interest of the pubcos to let them go down the pan. Otherwise support for the tie does not exist. In fact, contrary to all application of rational logic, pubcos actual practices, actions and inactions, contrive to force individual tenants out of business. At base this is why there are so many closed pubs all over the UK.

3.5 Below I indicate that S&NPC fails to comply with even a single aspect of their COP. I state with absolute conviction that my experience is in perfect alignment with that of lessees of all pubcos; even those cuddly "Family Brewers" who keep their head beneath the publicity horizon behave exactly the same way when dealing with tied tenants whose business is falling. Bad business practice, intimidation tactics and corporate bullying are routine in the tied pub industry. It is not complicated; It seems irrational and perverse but Pubcos behave this way simply because they can, they always get away with it; there is no overseer to bring them to account; when they are asked to account for their actions in front of government, Oft and so on, they are also asked to bring the evidence of their behaviour with them. Quite rationally, they only bring the packaging and never get out the contents for you to rummage through. COPs mean nothing; in practice they do not exist.

3.6 You will see that submissions from individual tied tenants are charged with emotion. Although they are recounting what actually happens to them their "evidence" will come across as being more anecdotal than as fact. Thus this evidence will be devalued and regarded as impossible to act upon. It will be in stark contrast to the evidence submitted by the employees of the pubcos and their indentured representatives such as BBPA.

3.7 The "evidence" put in front of the Select Committee by pubcos is considered as rational, objective analyses of their pub industry backed up by figures that contradict everything every individual tied lessee submits. This is because it's all made up. It is not reality, pubcos hold all the figures and stats for the whole industry, and they make them say what they want. Tenants have only their own experiences to recount and no way of verifying them with reams of stats. Tenants do not even have the resources or time to talk to each other on a regular basis to share information and experience.

3.8 The pubcos and their reps have suntans, they have pensions and company cars, they have weekends off, often abroad. They have evenings to themselves and their families, they have time to reflect and make decisions about how to invest their earnings, where to go on holiday and how to spend their bonuses. They are paid to write their BIS submissions during working hours and they have secretarial help, legal teams and IT departments to draw upon whenever they feel the need for support.

3.9 It is impossible for a tied tenant to write a submission such as this without expressing emotion. When you are a tied tenant You are broke. You are overworked. You have emotional problems brought on by stress. You have sleepless nights. You feel threatened. You are scared. Your life, your livelihood, your family and your closest relationships with significant others are on the line. You are depressed. You can see no future. You have to write your submission when your head is full of the above, between shifts, after mopping the floor last thing at night. After taking in the beer delivery at 7am and cleaning the toilets at 8am. And you have no one to turn to for advice about how to write it. You are isolated. You're on your own.

4. WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE 2010 - SOME NICE WORDS WERE PRINTED

4.1 Code of Practice. Objectively S&NPC's COP is a convincing document.

4.2 The S&NPC COP has never been given to me, or sent to me by post; I found it on the BII website; it seems not to be available from S&NPC's own site.

4.3 No employee of S&NPC has ever referred to the company's COP without my bringing it up first.

4.4 Point 3 of the COP states: "Lessees and representative bodies will be consulted before any changes are made to this code". At no stage have I, as a lessee, ever been told that the COP exists let alone been asked to comment on proposed changes. BII and FLVA are the examples given of representative bodies who may be included in consultation. BII is not representative of lessees and FLVA is funded entirely by fees paid by pubcos.

4.5 Point 7.2 "Making Commitments" States: "it is important that the lessee ensures that written confirmation is received from S&NPC whenever they believe that a specific commitment has been made. This is vital to avoid any misunderstandings later.

4.6 The COP has been revised since 2010 but there is no evidence that it has been distributed to tenants. Its creation and availability is designed to nod in the direction of being in the shop window of an upstanding company than as business reference tool.

4.7 Evidence is that S&NPE employees never act within the spirit or detail of their own published document. Prior to COP, post COP, their behaviour has unwaveringly been the same throughout sixteen my years with the pubco. While their published material is improved and updated their behaviour on the ground does not alter one jot.

4.8 In October 2008 I specifically asked, verbally and in writing, for a COP rent review due to adverse trading conditions. My request was completely ignored. Any further reference by me to the COP has consistently studiously been ignored... the COP's existence has never been acknowledged, except obliquely in a meeting in March 2011 where S&NPC's Regional Director said: "Going back through the paper work, why did you ask for a COP rent review in 2008?" He went on to explain "You understand that a COP rent review is not possible when a rent review is already underway?"

5. COMMUNICATIONS

5.2 The COP contains a lot of stuff about Contact and Communication. It reads nicely. The default position with a pubco is NOT to answer queries from tenants unless they are of the most anodyne nature. They only return calls about the least contentious matters imaginable.

5.3 Pubco employees never put anything in writing. Nothing is provided in writing unless it is a legal document that states at the top: "Without Prejudice" and has printed at the end: "I have chosen not to take legal advice and understand my obligations contained in this agreement" and "I have taken legal advice and understand…" tick as appropriate.

5.4 I have thick files full of notes taken during phone calls and meetings I have had with S&NPC employees. I have always followed up calls and meetings by sending emails, and in many cases letters, and sent these to the relevant S&NPC employee for confirmation of agreement. I can honestly say that the normal response is nothing. These communications range from simple confirmation of meeting content through to acknowledging important operational changes to my business where S&NPC have committed to commissioning essential work to the cellar or beer dispense equipment during a refurbishment. Not only do they not reply in writing, they often do not even do what they committed to during the meetings. It is clear that Company policy is that all these communications are routinely completely ignored.

5.5 Calls, emails or letters to anyone at S&NPC, no matter to whom in whichever part of the organisation, whether it be credit control, property, operational issues or legals, are generally ignored - unless it is to do with your paying them money. And if it's to do with your NOT being able to pay them money, there is nothing they can do - they will not discuss.

5.6 There is no recourse to this train of events because, quite simply, there is no one to turn to. There is an internal complaints process. Making complaints to apubco is like throwing tissues into a bottomless waste bin.

6. RESOLVING ISSUES

6.1 Point 11.3 of the COP states a whole lot of important things about how S&NPC will respond to "issues". Not a word of it is even remotely adhered to. When an Area Manager has failed to do something as promised their line manager takes their side. When dissatisfied with the response of the line manager there is no one else to refer to. Call head office: "We do not give out the numbers of people further up the business". When you write to the Managing Director, the matter is always referred back down to the regional team who then tell you that such communications are "not helpful" but that they will try to get the relationship back on a firm footing. Get in touch with the overall Chief Executive about the whole "issue" and, eventually the Regional Director will say "there was no need to get in touch with him". And nothing ever changes.

6.2 My local MP is Harriet Harman. In an attempt to gain some traction in the "issue" stakes I corresponded with Harriet about my 2005 rent review and the actions of S&NPC. Harriet kindly wrote to the MD of S&NPC and got a reassuring response from the Commercial Director which told her that nothing was at issue and there, essentially, was no problem. Working with this unending reality is a thoroughly intellect and life sapping process.

7. THE IMPACT OF THE TIE

7.1 There are no countervailing benefits. It is all "what's yours is ours and what's ours is… ours".

7.2 At this time of year the value of my weekly beer order through S&NPC is around £2,000. If I pick up the phone and make an order for exactly the same products and quantities of beer from a local wholesaler, the bill is £1,300.

7.3 When I place an order with S&NPC I have to pay for the beer three days before delivery. It is called Cash With Order. I can readily get thirty days' credit through a local wholesaler. If I were able to negotiate an annual supply deal the beer would be substantially cheaper through the wholesaler.

7.4 Typical of the sector is the level of rent set for tied pubs. It is a myth that tied pubs are let cheaper than free of tie. My pub in Camberwell is in the middle of three of the most socially and economically deprived wards in Britain. I have one of the most difficult catchments of any pub but I have always managed to attract custom because I am an exceptionally good operator (as told by S&NPC). My current rent is £65,000 a year. The rent on a free of tie leased pub, The Vale, local to me in East Dulwich (this type of pub is few and far between) with a hugely wealthier catchment, within a few seconds' walk of a busy commuter rail station is £58,000.

7.5 Last year S&NPC began taking £450 a week through Direct Debit from my bank account in an attempt to force me to repay the back rent owed from the 2005 review. They did this without consent, without warning, without reference to me. I cancelled DD payments and demanded to be reimbursed. They point blank refused. They then stopped delivering beer - even when I had paid for it in advance (£2 or £3,000 a week) because I would not pay the £450 against the rent. I told credit control these are separate issues. One is trade, one is property. I was told they can do anything they want with the accounts. This was a lie. This happened every week, for months. A fight every Monday over getting beer. The disputes meant that payment would be delayed and the beer deliveries would not be made on the normal Thursday run. They would not deliver on Friday unless I paid £150 to have it delivered outside then normal run. If I do not have beer I cannot trade so I'd pay the delivery "fine", make a note of it, and carry on the dispute with Regional Director.

7.6 S&NPC sent bailiffs to my pub because I had not paid rent on DD. The reason I had not paid rent was that someone at S&NPC's accounts department had tapped in the wrong digit on the DD call and it was rejected by their system. There was more than enough money in my account but nonetheless the bailiffs had a demand for £6,000 plus £400 for their costs and they would not leave, even when someone at credit control told them it was a mistake. They were at the pub for four hours on a busy Friday lunchtime. They made an inventory of everything on the premises, telling my customers and staff that I had defaulted on the rent. I complained about this action to everyone from Area Manager to Managing Director, asking for a letter of apology that I could use to reassure my employees that their jobs were not in danger of being lost; no one ever got back to me, no one apologised. The Area Manager said it was a mistake but they always send bailiffs in when a tenant defaults "to protect the company's interests". He even told me, "it actually is your responsibility to make sure that you pay the rent on time". I had never missed a rent payment before. Not once.

8. CONCLUSION

8.1 Since I signed my lease in 1995, in fact, I have never been more than two weeks away from bankruptcy. This is what happens to the majority of tied lessees. The only ones who survive are those whose business far outstrips even the pubco's dreams of "Fair Maintainable Trade", they make rubbish margins because of the tie but are cash rich. I've been stuck in the middle, in an awful ground hog day limbo, lasting this long because I have managed to duck and dive, rob Peter to pay Paul for all these years solely by dint of my business having strong cash flow and by learning, of necessity, how to navigate through impossible financial odds which now, as recently published in the pub industry trade press, put the majority of tied tenants in the position of being out of business within two years of signing their tied lease.

8.2 The above is a fleeting glance into the shadows of the darkness that lies in the business practices of the pubcos. In truth the experience, skills, talent, hard work, vision, cash and determination to succeed which I brought to this business have earned me nothing other than a steadily accumulating mountain of debt, a broken relationship with my partner of seventeen years, and imminent bankruptcy. For the last six years I have earned nothing directly from my business. My partner and I survived only by being paid Working Family Tax Credits and from undeclared income gained by renting out the flat above the pub against the terms of my lease. No wonder my partner left me and took our two boys with her.

21 June 2011

I had a tied lease from 25 September 1995 until 22 September 2011 when I was evicted . The lease was with Inntrepreneur initially, then Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises (S&NPC) who bought 300 pubs from Inntrepreneur, (at an insane average price of £660K from recollection) with the supply tie intact and all those tied tenants, lock stock and barrel... S&NPC was later sold to Royal Bank of Scotland under a lease back and management deal and later was sold to back Heineken - and is now called Star Pubs and Bars.

Rip Off Britain

Free houses charge high prices because they can. They can make a profitable business out of prices that don't look excessive in a market that is dominated by the prices tied pubs charge at the punp. By far the majority of pubs are tied to pubco's/ Their lessees are forced by circumstance to charge too much for their beer - because the wholesale price their profiteering pubco's charge is up to DOUBLE the open market price of draught beers ...

Thus the retail price of beer all over the UK is generally set by the prices that tied pubs sell their beer - the tied house wholesale supply prices are high because tied publicans set their pump price not by the gross margin they need to survive in business (usually 55% - 65% in catering) but exclusively at a level the publican thinks (hopes) they can get away with, without pissing their customers off so much that they go elsewhere...

Tied pub' gross profit margin on draught beer typically is around 35% - 40% - not enough to make the business able to cover overheads unless it is really bust and there's enough of a cash margin over the year to do better than break even.

This is why, excessive rents aside, there is so much business failure in the pub sector - the majority of pubs are tied = the majority of pubs are continually in a spiral of business failure. They only stay open between one tenants' failure and the next tenant investing in the premises as pubco's use 'Holding Companies' to trade the pubs while being marketed between tenants...

It's called the #GreatBritishPubcoScam

Thanks for listening

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Ale of Two Cities - The Lies and Omissions Behind Andy Slee

"Punch Taverns - The Pub Goers New Friend?"
is an article published in August 2014, issue 4, of Salford and North Manchester CAMRA's magazine: Ale of Two Cities. Punch's External Affairs director was interviewed. The article was picked up by a member of Licensees Supporting Licensees, the publican forum I help administer. Many of the group are tied pubco tenants. The article met with incredulity among people who have leases with Punch as none of it accords with their experience.  I asked Robin Bence for the right to reply which he gracefully agreed to. The original is a pdf and my response below...

Behind Andy Slee

Andy Slee is paid to tell the world the future is bright for Punch Taverns, for its four thousand pubs and for its ‘Partners’. External Affairs is his job.

Why would Andy not be frank in his admission of his company’s past errors? Many of them have been reported widely in the press – and are plain to see in the boarded up and converted pubs his company has starved of cash, run into the ground and sold for alternative use all over Britain - in the last five years. Would Andy be as likely to draw attention to the fact that Punch has been objecting to its pubs being listed as ‘Assets of Community Value’ by concerned communities? As Pete Brown reported here:  - where Punch say pubs don’t “further the social well being or social interests of the local community”.  And Andy being a member of CAMRA should be of little comfort to other CAMRA members considering that his employer has taken to renting pubs direct to Tesco.

Andy’s welcoming of a pubs’ adjudicator is only bowing to the inevitable. However without a Market Rent Option (MRO) - the key piece of legislation people who want to protect pubs have been pushing for - there is nothing upcoming to stop the continuing catastrophic conversion of Britain’s pubs to shops and housing from gathering pace.

Since last month’s article by Robin Bence in NW Manchester CAMRA magazine Punch has ‘restructured’ to avoid defaulting on interest payments and going into administration. ‘Restructuring’ cost Punch £30 million and led to a £600 million debt write-off reducing interest by £42 million a year - leaving Andy working for a company still taking around £35,000 cash each year from every pub it ‘owns’ JUST to pay the eye watering 7.8% loan interest on the remaining £1.6 billion debt it raised to buy the pubs in the first place.

Punch may wax lyrical about the situation and say they’ve changed but they can’t change their habits. I help administer Licensees Supporting Licensees, a Facebook forum for publicans, where Punch lessees report unanimously that the Punch Andy describes is not the Punch his ‘Partners’ recognise. This is confirmed by Andy in the way he talks down to his ‘Partners’ who have been vocal about losing unprotected rent deposits on the Punch Buyer’s Club Blog.

I’m writing having just left a Punch pub that was recently taken on by a new Lessee. He invested £70,000 in the premises (typical level of investment in a ‘low cost entry’ into the pub sector), was promised many things by Punch that have not materialised. Such as a working kitchen. He says ‘they promise the earth face to face but nothing is ever put in writing, then they change the deal they offered you the last time you saw them’. This behaviour will be as familiar to new lessees as it is to long standing Punch ‘partners’. It is happening right now, not just in the bad old days. It is a theme common in reports from Punch’s ‘Partners’ consulted since the Slee article. Space doesn’t allow more information from LSL to be presented here but their experience is an indictment of Punch’s methods that tells a radically different story from Slee’s. And, by the way, don’t forget that 57% of tied tenants earn less than £10K a year (CAMRA figs).

There is no happy silent majority of tenants out there, plying trade successfully, being supported by Punch – they are mostly clinging onto their businesses working ludicrous hours – for heaven’s sake the figures say it all! 31 pubs are closing every week, all over the country. It’s an epidemic and Punch is a main culprit. Andy may be pleased to state that 9 out of 10 pubs Punch sell continue trading - but as what? Betting shops? Tesco Locals?

So what next for Punch? What is clear that surviving the last few years indicates a determination by the management to sell all its assets and not build business. Now owned by hedge funds the restructure keeps the company safe from a creditor and shareholder viewpoint – another 1000 pubs set for disposal will generate cash to meet interest payments for up to three years. But the situation is completely unsustainable for tenants who Punch obviously regards as milk cows not stakeholders. There is nothing here for the British Beer Drinker either; prices are only set to go up. Cask ale is a part of this – consumers want it so Punch’s tenants are buying it and Punch profiteers from the sales.

Andy’s meeting with CAMRA wouldn’t have happened four years ago because back then Punch’s activities were below the radar. Now no one can miss their boarded up pubs all over the show and they’re on a charm offensive so they can carry on with flogging the British pub sector into oblivion in plain sight.

Before long the only viable pubs left in Britain will be chain and branded operations. So as Andy is willing us to believe that it isn’t business as usual, when clearly it is, CAMRA members should be looking at their core values and mission statement and deciding how to attack the pubco hegemony of which Punch is a pioneering part.

The figures below are extracted from Punch’s own accounts.
2009 disposed 772 pubs paid interest of £213.9 Million
2010 disposed 840 pubs paid interest of £193.7 Million
2011 disposed 402 pubs paid interest of £175.0 Million
2012 disposed 454 pubs paid interest of £171.7 Million

Included in these sales Punch is continually selling busy, completely viable pubs in prime sites. The pubs have sitting tenants with busy, vibrant, profitable businesses. Punch sell their tenants to developers for multiple £ millions who then turf them out. London pubs are being decimated this way but if you have a prime real estate site elsewhere your pub will be sold with you in it, whether you like it or not.

The above don’t include ‘Churn’ – business failure - where a publican’s business fails, the tenant leaves and the pub stays open, run by a ‘Holding Company’ until re-let to the next tenant who will invest in the building as a ‘low cost entry’ into the pub trade. There is no reliable data for churn numbers. The pubco’s deny Churn is an issue yet the pub holding company business is booming -Google it. LSL reckon from observation that around 15% of the national estate, including Punch, is under temporary management waiting for new tenants at any given time.

Beer supply prices, September 2014 – figures from LSL

11 galls Carlsberg: Punch Buying Club tied price = £148.54
11 galls Carlsberg: Greene King free of tie price = £76.99 or buy 6 get 1 free = £65.99 per 11 galls

OR, that’s less than HALF the price of Punch's tied supply prices

It REALLY is dog eat dog out there 

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Local pubs still have a bright future despite rising numbers of closures"


In IFA magazine "IFA Magazine simply exudes quality"
"IFA Magazine, web site and media content is intended solely for professional financial advisers only. No other persons should rely on information contained within."

Completely typical non analytical non challenging no-depth interview of a typical toff being allowed to invent their own story and have it treated verbatim as fact entirely without query. Toy Town treatment and fantasy as always when it comes to beer and pubs in the UK...

It is clear from the way Shepherd Neame treats its tied tenants that Neame is here for the long term only as far as his family and shareholders are concerned and not for anyone else. Last of all the consumer.

This 'family brewer' (er, Plc) exhibits the behavioural hallmarks of a personally disengaged arms length acting sociopathic behemoth. They make profits alright - but at the expense of character, individuality and personality at any level in the retail facing part of the business.

At a managed estate level their beers are boring the pubs are anodyne and the produce they handle and serve is not quite what they hope to promote as bespoke produced in the pub kitchens, coming fresh from the Garden of England. Rather, as numerous sightings of passers by of Shep's pub deliveries report, their wares are sourced at the 3663 catering wholesale warehouse. Not that there's anything wrong with 3663 intrinsically, it's just pushing the notion of home cooking using veg from the back garden and animals stroked by the milk maid a bit too far.

And when it gets to tied tenanted pubs the friendly family face gets lost altogether. Don't blame tax, duty or supermarkets for any difficulties Jonathan, look to your own for any difficulties your estate experiences...

Unbelievable but true - Sheps charge their own tenants MORE for Shepherd Neame beers than the notoriously usurious non brewing tied pub co's, like Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns, sell Sheps to their hard pressed penniless tenants.

That's not 'Family Brewer' that's out and out profiteering Mr Neame

The Guardian Sustainable Business Network

Get some Americans in. They are way ahead of us culturally on these issues

Elon Musk - Tesla etc
Steve Jurvetson - Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Michael Brune, Sierra Club

It would be fascinating if you could bring leaders of competing / complementary like minded green / sustainable network builders together to find out what motivates them and ask what's REALLY needed to get mass behaviour change underway

Robert and Catherine Hokin - Eco Connect http://www.ecoconnect.org.uk/

Jim Woods - The Crowd http://www.thecrowd.me/

Martin Charter - Centre for Sustainable Design www.cfsd.org.uk

Jarvis Smith - Pea Awards http://www.peaawards.com/

Sarah Butler-Sloss - Ashden Awards http://www.ashden.org/

And there are others, I just can't remember off hand who they are.

Last ditch attempt to save the Maiden Over pub fails to convince Wokingham council

Story in getreading

The government needs to sort its act out and give councils planning provision to stand up against big, predatory pub companies flogging off pubs to big predatory supermarkets. These pub conversion to shop disputes are happening to communities all over Britain.

Local Authorities don't have planning powers to stop well organised developers from walking all over the pathetically weak legislative pub protection tools available.

Hundreds of communities have lost their last social hubs already and hundreds more are being blighted by deliberately run down, blatantly asset stripped pubs that are made unfit for purpose pubs by profiteering pub companies ready to be flogged off to pay interest on debts they raised to buy the property in the first place.

This is the #GreatBritishPubcoScam It's coming to a pub near you.

Now.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hello Are you still there?

Hello

Are you still there? If you aren't would you mind passing this on to someone who is? Thanks.

I need sponsorship while I finish the business plan for the People's Pub Partnership www.peoplespubpartnership.org

PPP is going to revolutionise the British pub sector and be the grass roots ground breaking kick start  the UK needs to transform the low carbon economy

I look forward to hearing from you

Best wishes

J Mark Dodds FRSA
http://about.me/jmarkdodds
https://twitter.com/JMarkDodds
07768 096 761

[MALICIOUS CONTENT DETECTED] Launching "Integrated Thinking" | 6th October

I can’t really remembering what I was arguing about pubs, but how are you getting on?

Jim

Hi Jim
I tried to get you interested in the People's Pub Partnership and you said you like the idea but didn't think there's any future in pubs. You told me about that pub near your local Tube station that's a Tesco Local, I think it was, and I said I could tell you its history, why customers abandoned it, how it was run into the ground by a pubco (almost certainly Punch or Enterprise), and why many of these pubs, if they were bought through a crowd fund and treated the right way, retrofitted with low environmental kit, reopened as pubs again, serving great ales and local and regional, short and ethically sourced supply chain produce served by enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff employed under a John Lewis style constitution, and run properly as proper pubs again. They would be busy, vibrant and very profitable pubs that are totally relevant to 21st century consumers and they would ROCK!

But you didn't believe me. You said you like the idea but think it's fundamentally flawed because pubs are a thing of the past.

That's what it was about!

I'm still right though - even Matthew Taylor thinks I'm wrong!

Pubs are THE Future!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Charter For Pubs

No one is listening. CAMRA's in disarray. The pubs crisis is becoming a catastrophic chapter in British social history the nation is sleepwalking through. We have to change the game. We have to get this recognised for the calamity it is. Communities, and pubs, need real help.

In 1848 the Chartists raised a petition and reached almost two million signatures. We ought to be able to reach that many people FFS - what's happening is hitting everyone everywhere, it's becoming an epidemic - the end of the British Pub.  Well apart from the kinds of pubs that the British Pub Trade Press drool over and the pubco's create, copy and recreate.

I asked James Watson this by text just now and posted the below to Real Ale Up North on a post he did about the growth in Micropubs. We have some of the most eloquent and best informed people on pubs in the UK right here. Much of what's needed for wording a Charter has already been written by us already. It has to have a solution, some clearly achievable objectives. I have some ideas. What about this marvellous forum?

Real Ale Up North:

There's no doubt you're right. The movement will gather pace. It will become a seismic, self fulfilling prophecy unless the squeeze, the stranglehold, on pubs that has been created by pubco's, ably supported by weak planning laws and a pathetic parliament perpetually ignoring the wishes of the populace, is loosened for good.

Would you be interested in helping draw up a Charter For Pubs and putting it out on 38 degrees? We can get a group of licensee together with some high profile people and really get it going. Pressurise CAMRA to attend to its responsibilities...

We might persuade beer writers to contribute. I have a feeling Roger Protz and Pete Brown might be persuaded. And try for some high profile people too, Stephen Fry and Johnny Vegas have shown sympathy, if we can get a few like that to agree to say something about the value of good pubs to communities it would likely be spreadable. If we got that far before going public two million ought to be within reach.

Please feedback

Monday, September 22, 2014

There's Lies, Damned Lies and Beer Ties

Want to run the pub yourself? Partner with Punch Taverns (Enterprise Inns, Admiral Taverns, Star Pubs & Bars, Green King, Marston's and other of a few dozen dodgy white collar run companies operating a 'low cost tied lease entry into the pub trade business model')

Notice all those failed, closed, boarded up pubs all over the country from Land's End to John O'Groats? All those other pubs we haven't closed and sold for alternative use (yet) that have temporary managers keeping them trading while we advertise our wares (you can't spot those ones because they aren't boarded up (yet)).

Well ALL of those pubs are available To Let on generous entry terms. Just prove you can breathe, hold a pen and make a mark (on your bank account) and sign here. You don't HAVE to buy a property - we did that already, we bought them all for around £600K, all of them, all over the country, so we could rent them out to people LIKE YOU!

For as little as £10,000 and up to as much as £150,000 we will let you take on ALL the responsibilities of one of our pubs - all the maintenance, repairs, leaks from ceiling to cellar, and turn it into the business of our dreams (and your nightmares)...

Beer supplied at up to double open market rate - guaranteed!
Rents higher than open market - definitely!
Business support - non existent to negligent - for sure!
Business hindrance - assured!
Total commitment to making partners fail - all part of the package!
YOU pay for everything
We take it all
Heads you win
Tails you lose

Why not give it a go?

We're here to help. We have a load of roadshows ahead with our services and up to 130 suppliers who are eager to help get your business off the ground and into their bank accounts! We are SO confident about your partnership with us going swimmingly WHY! We've even arranged to have Insolvency Experts and debt advisors at all our shows>>>

Roll Up Roll Up Roll UP to the the Punch Taverns Road Show!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Another comment on another closed forever pub article

The Ridge and Furrow pub has been forced to close after Morrisons entered plans for a petrol station on the land

Good article, well informed. 


Pubs like this are being asset stripped all over the UK by 'tied model' pub companies who lease them out to publicans at high rents while supplying them with beer at up to double open market prices. This makes takes any profit the publicans might earn and puts it into the pockets of the pubco's, the publicans cannot invest in their businesses, the pubs become run down, customers abandon the pub for better appointed, better value places, the publican's business fails, often the pubco manages to get another lessee to invest more in the pub, but never enough to get the property, or the business, out of the doldrums. Eventually no one is optimistic enough to believe the pub will ever work again without comprehensive refurbishment at which point the pubco sells the freehold to a developer 'suitable for alternative use' the developer has a history of the pub which suggests 'it is no longer financially viable' as a pub and the rest is what everyone is becoming familiar with all over the British Isles as we see the rich traditions that surround pub culture, the heritage and very particular sense of place that pubs bring to our society, slowly, deliberately asset stripped from our lives in plain sight as a few pubco's and family brewers abuse the beer tie, fleece thousands of publican lessees and the communities they serve into the bargain, and profiteer all the way to their bondholders and banks. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy and people like joner63 laugh at the situation saying 'you should have used it' when, really, people didn't use it because these run into the ground pubs can't possibly meet the standards demanded by contemporary customer expectations.