Saturday, February 27, 2010

Charles Wells' hosts say business support is improving

The point I was making at the top of this thread, which was removed and returned, is that the type of news slipping out of pubco towers has been changing recently.

It used to be unusual to see anything from any of the lesser, doffing cap pubcos. They've largely been very quiet leading up to and since Besc 2008. Most comment on the state of the industry has been flowing from Punch and Enterprise. 'XXX spokesman said' "Tuppen: 'MPs are morons'"; "Thorley 'findings of a kangaroo court'" etc etc.

Recently though the tied pub industry PR position has changed. Not So Subtly. It's like there's been a shift changeover. It's the pubcos who've been kept out of the spotlight, shy and retiring, who are fronting press releases now while the bad boys are shuffling things around their caves pretending to be nice with tenants.

It began in earnest with Alistair Darby sitting up there at BISC, Brigid Simmonds' 'right hand man', straining to provide credibility to the BBPA's stuttering performance as the 'leading organisation representing the UK beer and pub sector' as the committee was asked with a pretty please to give the sector another two years before asking any nasty questions about codes of practice when the tie isn't the issue. Really. Is it.

The lesser, cap doffing, pubcos have remained almost beyond suspicion, overlooked, out of the spotlight, assumed to be benign players not part of the modern thrusting nastiness - their associations with brewing gives them enormous mileage with all sorts of industry observers - from CAMRA to the trade press and the beer drinker in the street such as Roger Protz - while the big boys have taken the full brunt of opprobrium deserved for the whole sector.

To continue...

Now the lesser, cap doffing, pubcos are in the glare of inquiring spotlight they seem all fresh faced, somehow keen to please, junior and innocent, squeaky clean even. It makes a good impression to people on the outside. It has fallen on Ralph Findlay and Alistair Darby to blink into the dubious limelight recently. Watch out for the next shift change when Rooney Anand and Willie Crawshay (who he?) take the floor. Well it might not go that far but I bet they've been pushed toward the mics in the BBPA offices.

This is a simple diversionary tactic to make the industry seem less bad than it is, an attempt to make the industry seem to want to be trying to change. An attempt to get off the hook, to be given time to try their new codes of practice out on their new lessees while the others shrivel and wither out of sight on the old vine.

Well nothing's ACTUALLY changed. And nothing's ACTUALLY changing, the lesser, cap doffing, pubcos have always been just as bad as the bad boys, it's just no-one has been looking at them so closely. They slavishly copied the big boys. They shed, and some still are shedding, managed houses in emulation of the big boys. They employ the same principles, methods, ethics and shoddy practices quite deliberately. They even employ the same people, their staff interchangeable from one sorry pubco to another, just the letter heading being different.

'Business support is improving'. Even if it is, it's a decade too late.

GOOD GRIEF! Did I really say it's a decade too late? I'm falling into the trap! The bloody tie was supposed to end in 1998 and here we are in 2010 having national discussions about whether business support blah blah blah and if the tie blah blah blah. This industry is a bad joke.

edited by: J Mark Dodds at: 27/02/2010 22:19:42

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