Saturday, May 16, 2009

Beer tie must go to Competition Commission, MPs say

It beggars belief that the pubcos remain in permanent, terminal denial of their own bad practices which have been comprehensively exposed by the BEC report.

As most pubcos maintain their familiar perennial deafening silence, leaving the two big brothers to take a very public panning; Enterprise and Punch make almost identical, huffy utterances of 'disappointment' over the report, demanding government should 'reject' the call for a Competition Commission involvement, implying this would be a waste of time and resources. They reiterate their blind conviction that the tie works to mutual benefit of licensee and pubco. They trot out the 'low cost business opportunity for entrepreneurs' mantra and the oddly evangelical 'there is a rightful place in the market for the tie'.

HANG on. Let's look at this again. The pubco way of doing things has been comprehensively trashed. Pubcos are proven to abuse their power. They have been told they are bullies. They have been exposed for not doing what they advertise themselves as doing. Their business practices are not equitable. Licensees do not get a fair share of the rewards of their endeavour. Pubcos take most of the cream leaving little or nothing for the people who pay their wages. Pubco CEOs have, in open session, in public, made 'positive falsehoods' about their business practices to a cross party, impartial, unbiased commmittee of democratically elected men and women. These lay people to the pub industry did not have an axe to grind. They were genuinely 'shocked' by what they found out during their inquiry. There was no dissent among the committee, their report findings are 'unanimous'.

Remember that while their findings initially came out of licensees' written evidence, they were then directly and comprehensively affirmed by the results of the committee's own independent, confidentially conducted survey. There is no get out clause for the pubcos here. The school bullies have been rounded up in their playground, with their affiliated, chartered and accredited cohorts in tow, and cornered together against the chain link fence with no way out. The least they could do at this juncture would be to admit they were caught with their trousers down and tell the world they intend to change the way they do business. Problem is no one would believe them because they've ducked and dived through the last twenty years and their word cannot be trusted. Their day has gone, the game is up.

This report is an unimpeachable condemnation of the behaviour and practices of pubcos.

The CEOs responsible for this shameful shambles of an industry should read this report thoroughly, reflect upon the reprehensible excuses they have used to justify their position for so long, hang their heads in shame, then write notes of apology and hand their resignation lettes in to their boards before retiring to enjoy their multiple homes, vehicles and yachts at leisure paid for by countless thousands of broken licensees who's lives they ruined in their blind quest for power and glory in the name of the Great British Pub.

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