Thursday, June 09, 2011

Pubcos grilled on statutory code

The good guys occupied the front bench to start with and convincingly tore apart ALL the fiddling around with Codes of Practice that have taken place since THE LAST TIME BISC SAT; and shredded the absolute lie that 'free of tie options' are available to tied lessees everywhere (subsequently the questioners got the bad guys to admit, finally, that there is not one, NOT ONE, COP that includes an open market rent review and therefore they are all of no material benefit whatsoever to anyone who takes them up unless they are significantly outperforming FMT). It was all looking rosy and neat and significantly as if progress were being made toward establishing a fair and free market in the pub industry until the bad guys took the stand:

When the forces of darkness occupied the front row their initial delivery was embarrassing. Like a line up of naughty schoolboys (sorry Brigid) accounting to the beak for telling porky pies in front of matron.

This pub industry of ours is utterly pathetic. It's been brought to its knees, to the brink of collapse and no return, by the very companies and organisations these people represent. They sit there in debates and inquiries like this, saying they are doing everything they can to make it better, pleading that it's tough out there (not so tough as it is in any single pub in the country you fat salaried pubco boys and girls), throwing in little asides about tax, duty, changing customer habits and supermarket competition and simply avoiding admitting it's their own business practices that have drained ALL the profit out of thousands and thousands of pubs, leaving them underinvested, dilapidated, falling apart and charging sky high prices for beer.

THAT is why pubs are closing - they are run down and not fit for purpose because the tied business model does not allow them to be invested in by their lessees - who themselves earn less than the minimum wage for being entrepreneurial, risk taking business people.

Fact is what we witnessed in the stand so to speak was a bunch of people keeping their own jobs secure at the expense of an entire tradition, heritage and an estate of businesses that is failing nationally because these people continue to feather their nests while Rome Burns.

The only moments, glimmers, of optimism of the day were Rogert Whiteside asserting his belief that he, personally, is keeping tied pubs open through his forward thinking business practices (don't forget this is while getting rid of approaching HALF his estate which is failing; of course) and that FLVA's Nigel Williams really stuck his neck out (against all predictions) and said that the Codes have no teeth and that statutory intervention is needed. That was a genuine WOW moment.

BBPA in the form of Brigid Simmonds was deplorably useless. BII's Neil Roberston did a good job of keeping the side up while not defending or deploring anything. Enterprise's Simon Townsend, gentleman that he is, predictably asserted that black is white and that a failed tenant represents a 'catastrophe' for his business model. Roger was the nice guy we have come to expect and that's about it, another page turned in the well thumbed rule book of the fun and games that is The Great British pubco scam.

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