Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's not really the government that should be blamed for what's happened to the pub industry. The pub industry is a sitting duck for all manner of anti pub lobbies because it is so poor at lobbying robustly.

There is no roundly plausible voice of the pub industry because no one reflects or represents the views and knowledge of the people on the ground, the licensees who pull the pints and talk to the punters and pay all the industry's bills.

BBPA is suffering because it has served the industry so poorly and truth is the pub industry needs a major shake up. BBPA is just a symptom of a deep malaise... It's the industry itself rather than BBPA that is in meltdown because it has been managed woefully inadequately for so very long. It's decades behind where it should be as part of the cultural landscape because it has been woefully poor at investing in or reinventing itself in line with what is happening with the rest of the world. This is because far too great a proportion of the industry's profit has been taken by a few powerul landlords. Unfortunately the industry is in dominated by big companies who have been sadly lacking at good husbandry practices or maintaining even basic housekeeping responsibilities. Their eye has been off the long term ball and on maximising shareholder value and return at the expense of operating sustainable business practices. Some lost sight of reality just as did some of the banks. The share values and vast glaringly dilapidated, over valued estates speak for themselves.

Huge swathes of the industry are in no fit state to ride out a downturn because they are so financially weak in the first place that 4p a pint tax increase imposes a life threatening burden on thousands of small businesses. The situation has become intolerable not because of taxes but because of the unreasonable, incrementally increasing financial burden owners have placed on licensees over the past twenty years.

In effect the beer orders served only to continue the decline of the industry which made the beer orders so urgently needed in the first place.

One can only hope that current investigations into the industry lead to a period of positive change implemented and monitored using the benefit of hindisght and the experience of two decades of hard learned lessons.

Could the BBPA be a part of that?

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