Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mediation meeting was constructive

Participants are being discrete because it is appropriate that these discussions should be confidential until there is something concrete to say about them. Until then speculation and intrigue is pointless. However, it is not beyond the wit of observers to imagine what happens in meetings like this and come up with something not too far from the reality.

'They' are working at finding a way of changing the way business is done in the tied pub sector so it is more open, or 'transparent' as the zeitgeist has it, to outsiders so they can assess whether or not it operates fairly. The end goal from some participants is to put the industry into shape so that in depth investigation by OFT and then Competition Commission prove unneccesary because such scrutiny is unneccessary, costly and would put the industry into a period of uncertainty which would lead to a lack of investment and other unspecified nasty difficulites. The other view is that fairness and an equitable distribution of profit is needed throughout the industry - and it matters little how this is reached as long as fairness is achieved. If that comes through a well managed mediation process so be it. If the mediation leads to no substantial shift in the status quo then detailed investigations by the above august authorities should ensue with alacrity and bottoms should be spanked.

This will be an interesting process, or challenge more like it, particularly for big pubcos, as readers and participants in this forum are already well aware - they ahve far further to move than anyone else in the process and, in the end, it will be the pubcos' willingness to bend (which unavoidably must affect their profitability in favour of their lessees') or their intransigence which will set the outcome. If they bend enough BIG Investigations may not be needed; if they do not bend - it is up to others to force them to do so.

Enterprise's absence in this process is to be expected as it is nothing new. Their position is to reject claims that there is anything wrong and coming to the table would be tantamount to an admission that they might, after all, not have been as open as they like to put about.

Remember the January protests outside Enterprise and Punch HQs? Ted kept the curtains shut and had loads of uniformed police turn up to stop us from crossing the dotted white line across the entrance to the car park while Giles' lot came out with smiles and cups of tea and invited people in (as best they could between clencehd teeth smiles).

No comments:

Post a Comment