With colleagues I am working on setting up the People's Pub Partnership. PPP is a crowd funded pub company which will do on a large scale what is proposed with the Philanthropub. This is designed to correct the market imbalance in the Pub Sector that has developed in Britain since the introduction of the Beer Orders in 1989 - legislation that was supposed to be monopoly breaking but which exaggerated the problem it was meant to address. This has led to the closure of many thousands of pubs in the UK as Private Equity led 'Pub Companies' built enormous estates of pubs and leased them at over market rents to individuals with side deals that obliged them to buy beer from the Pub Companies - at prices set by the pubco's. This process concentrated all the profit from the industry into pubco coffers as publicans struggled to keep up rent and beer payments, unable to invest or innovate in their businesses, while the consumer market changed out of all recognition over the last twenty five years.
This leaves a situation in Britain where, after the Monarchy, the single most identifying cultural icon of the nation, The British Pub, is failing in droves and freehold pubs are coming onto the market at historically low prices with few buyers other than fast food outlets like MacDonald's, betting shops or national Supermarket chains who run 'Local' stores all over the country.
The People's Pub Partnership will buy carefully chosen freehold pubs from the collapsing market, retrofit them to the highest environmental standards so they are not dependent in any way on gas or other fossil fuels, they generate electricity on site and are refurbished decoratively to be attractive, vibrant, thriving social hubs, some will brew beer on the premises, and all will source, prepare and sell excellent local and regional produce with supply chain monitored at every level to continually improve and reduce carbon emissions and environmental footprint to be the most energy and cost efficient businesses in the UK.
PPP will be owned by its workers and customers. It's constituted like the John Lewis Partnership with an extended ownership structure that allows its users to be owners as well as the employees.
The strength of the plan is that there's nothing particularly radical or exceptionally new in any of the concept or the vision for the business - everything we are using here has been done successfully before now in different circumstances. What is RADICAL about the whole is that all the constituent parts of the the package have not been put together in one business before and nothing so ambitious has been crowd funded - similar businesses have been funded by Private Equity 'Business Angels' and VC's who expect an exit with an unreasonable return at five years, the pubs get sold off and the investors walk away even richer than they were to begin with while the workers and customers are left to deal with the consequences of a long term unsustainable business that has to pay back the debts raised to buy out the original investors and the board becoming millionaires. It's short term and well, basically, wrong if what you want is sustainable responsible business that contributes to society and community.
CAMRA the Campaign for Real Ale, Europe's largest consumer organisation, are backing the proposal, John Lewis and the Co-operative Society have been supportive in the research phases.
If you're interested in the project please consider leaving contact details at
www dot peoplespubpartnership dot org
or liking on Facebook at ThePeoplesPubPartnership and following on Twitter @peoplespubptshp