Friday, March 06, 2009

Well Alex that's an inspiring contribution. Perhaps you've already lobbied local councillors and your MP before posting here? Or perhaps you have even talked to your local publican to let them know the neighbours are all looking forward to the place being boarded up?

This trade IS its own worst enemy. It never presents a united front under any circumstances. The Darling You're Barred campaign was remarkable in that it gained visibility in pubs at all but, as you point out, it was no where near ubiquitous in its penetration of pubs or of the public consciousness.

Why? The reasons are many - publicans as a breed likely feel it's unsavoury to politicise the ambience of their hostelry when they know customers use pubs as a haven from the pressures of the day to day and for relaxation. Customers go to pubs to moan about everything else in society, surely they don't want to moan about the pub as well?

And probably the last thing a publican wants is to draw customers' attention to steep increases in the price of a pint.

Then there's the huge issue of the pub trade's endemic apathy. Why? There is NO national representative body supporting and promoting the interests of individual licensees. Licensees busily running their own businesses, focused on keeping the punters coming in, are isolated from the rest of the trade and feel impotent to effect change in their industry. They feel that no one listens to them anyway so why waste energy when they have a business to run, a family to support, bills to pay and long working hours that leave them with little down time to even think about what's going on around them.

Circumstances are such that the thousands of individuals who make up the pub trade can only be reactive to events when they need to be proactive, setting and driving the agenda of the industry to politicians and the public. This patently does NOT happen in this industry and full responsibility for this parlous state of affairs lies squarely in the hands of the major 'custodians' of the pub trade - big business - the pubcos. The brewers were effectively muzzled with the introduction of the beer orders and it has never been in pubcos' interests to have the pub trade united trade at shop floor level.

Communication between licensees - exchanging notes about the commercial relationships they hold with their freeholders - largely thanks to the internet, has been the only thing which has brought any kind of genuinely representative voice together at individual licensees level.

The Axe the Tax campaign hasn't gained universal appeal because it is promoted by BBPA and sponsored by CAMRA, neither of which represent individual licensees. It's not a grass roots campaign which it needs to be to get take up across the trade. Grass roots campaigns do not happen in the pub trade because it is a fragmented industry composed largely of thousands of small businesses controlled by mega businesses whose interests are in total misalignment with each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment