Monday, April 30, 2012

ON the Sale of Pubs Over the Head of Tenants

John Lindsey, according to all pubcos when any freehold sale happens, whether it's one or a thousand pubs changing hands, as far as the lessee is concerned it's just business as usual. At worst the lessee will notice nothing, at best they will be better off than they were with the previous freeholder because there will be a greater synergy, or a slightly wider range of products / 'brand mix' to buy at 50% more than they should be, or some other claptrap once the new Feudal Land Baron settles in.

Reality is they are right - the tenant's been ripped off rotten by one bunch of crooks and the new freeholder will make absolutely sure that absolutley nothing's going to change. Their job is to Sweat those Assets and the tenants are going to do all the sweating until they go bankrupt. That is the way of pubco world.

Even as I post this I think to myself 'but this just doesn't make any sense'. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I was in the tied pub trade for twenty years. I was always, from before the time I signed a lease (which was advertised as coming free of tie in 1998 mind) doing research and asking around and questioning the Tie and eventually I made it my job, through the Fair Pint Campaign, to find those golden fleece tenants who were so competent that they were making an honest and fair living and NOT ONCE did I meet a tenant who was happy / confident with their long term prospects with ANY pubco. The ONLY exception were a few who were doing over 500 barrels a year. They (understandably) were making a cash sum they were happy with but all accepted their GP% was 'shite' and if they were FOT they would be FAR more profitable.

My pub was sold over me three times - each time as one pubco passed around their estates like counters on a roulette table inflating their assets by dodgy accounting and levering their projected long term profits to raise more and more debt. I met lots of other publicans whose pubs had been sold five or six times. Usually they just got another set of stupid bullies banging at the door instead of the last load of dunderheads. Not so much same meat different gravy - but definitely same shit different shovel, but this one's perhaps a bit more stinky than the last.

Sorry I digress... what better do I have to do than to digress? I've got all the time in the world. I'm just a failed ex tied lessee who can't accept my own shortcomings and always have to blame other people for my inability to run a business competently.


Oh, and what clinched it for me was meeting THREE different 'multiple operators' at different times - people I'd read glowing reports about in the trade press, written about in golden terms as people who have their finger on the pulse - people who raised £millions to float their businesses - people who 'owned' chains of tied pubs - Pub Company owners in other words - who all talked like they know everything about the world of pubs, all had 'great relationships' with their freeholders (mostly combinations of Punch/S&NPE/Enterprise) who privately told me doesn't stack up.

They ALL have since either gone bust - broadcast in the press too - or have got out of tied pubs altogether before the inevitable happened - or have 'restructured' through pre pack administrations and then shed their pubs and gone entirely free of tie.

No one listens to me though.

No comments:

Post a Comment