Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dumb Blunt Pubco Stupidity

ON getting phone calls at 7am morning asking me to receive beer deliveries at the pub I was evicted from fifteen months ago...

You're kind Daniel Jones, and I appreciate the recognition Sheena Valentine. Humbly, of course.

You may well ask yourselves what on earth is an evicted, bankrupted, homeless and (still) unemployed ex tied (Heineken) pub lessee still doing on this forum almost a year and a half after his tenure was so abruptly curtailed by being unable to magic £200,000 out of thin air to meet the demands of a six years past rent review.

Next you may note the time of this workshy fop's post and see that it was begun around 7.15am on a Thursday from south east London.

The more worldly among you may then note that Thursday in south east London traditionally, has been Courage Southern's Dray delivery day. The even sharper sleuth like among those may by now already have deduced that around 7.00am is, traditionally, a time that beer deliveries are made to pubs in this part of south London.

And, finally, the most quick witted will have deduced that I am awake and posting at this slightly ungodly hour for doing such a thing because Kuhne und Nagle, beer deliverers to the gods of the pub trade, just called me to say the delivery for The Sun is almost at the front doors. And would I be there to receive them with open flaps and a crash mat.

No.  Is the answer.

NO. I was evicted in Sept 2011. Please tell your head office to get my number off your system. "Sorry mate".
Then consider that I wrote in my profile for Morning Advertiser that "I will not rest until I see the end of the Pubco's" or some such noble cry.

The piece below is my first ever attempt at posting om the Morning Advertiser, which I did in a state of fury after hearing a whitewash article about the pub business on the radio 4 programme 'You and Yours' which was followed up on MA with a whitewash report in that rag article called "Beer Tie Slammed On BBC". I can't remember when this was exactly, which pisses me off (it was 8 February 2008), but it's what led directly to the Fair Pint Campaign getting off the ground.

I spent an hour on the phone today calling the You and Yours feedback line (0800 044 044) saying I want the right to reply to this programme (with a couple of other publican friends with tied leases) because it gave such a distorted view and misrepresentation of the industry as it stands today.

Mike Bell's contribution could hardly beer called an attack on the tied pub system. The overall feel of the piece was: times are hard for publicans because of:

a) high beer prices due to successive tax increases

b) competition from supermarkets (that one again?)

c) there being too many pubs and not enough customers (because of a and b) and finally

d) loads of people in the pub business are crap at business and they, sadly, with all these pressures around are bound to fail.

The PubCo's got off incredibly lightly. Any criticism of PubCo's was effectively brushed off by both Jonathan Neame and Andrew Pring. Mike Bell being friendly toward Andrew confused me slightly because I didn't know who he was until later but from what Andrew was saying on the programme I really thought he must be a PubCo representative. I was shocked when Steve on the BBC feedback line told me he was from the Morning Advertiser. Still there you go.

The fact that that PubCo's do not pass their huge beer volume discounts on to their estate and charge their tenants completely rip off prices for beer was not even mentioned.
The fact that they are incredibly aggressive in rent reviews was not brought up at all.

The fact that they give no structural support whatsoever to publicans and lessees was not mentioned.

The fact that the PubCo industry expects, as a matter of course, lessees to:

1) invest heavily in 'their' business

2) work 70 hour weeks

3) live in for free and regard that as 9K a year income

4) take on ALL responsibility for the maintenance, repair, upkeep and, actually, improvement of the PubCo's estate

5) devolve ALL responsibility for insurance, ALL incoming legislation, All health & safety issues etc etc.

All this and more while giving no support of any tangible kind to the lessee - none of this was touched on in the programme.

And to add insult to injury (and injustice) WE - that's all the publicans across the land who are working their bollocks, asses and fannies off to pay their rent and ridiculous spiralling beer prices to make sure people like Giles Thorley get paid more than £11,000,000 yes, that is ELEVEN MILLION POUNDS, or £1,300 for every pub in the estate, and his henchmen BDM's, or whatever crock name they are given, bonuses, company car, free trips to all sporting do's golf days free booze, six weeks holiday and never work a weekend lifestyle, I say WE are told the WE are crap at business and that's why wer'e having a hard time.

Andrew Pring said pubs in London are doing really well. Even pubs that don't do food and pubs with no outside area. Oh yeah? Prove it Andrew. My pub's in London. I'm award winning, I do food, I have outside areas, I spent 100K of my own money (all borrowed from banks) before the smoking ban and my customers love it. I work like a dog and I'm JUST getting by. All around me I see pubs without all that behind them and thay are dropping like flies mate. CLOSING. SHUTTING DOWN. Boarded up. FOR sale or otherwise just empty and waiting for the inevitable.

'the pub trade's biggest challenge is to recruit abler retailers...? 'If people see that running a pub is a difficult business... peoople and not making much money... pubcos have to help people...' ? this is all pie in the sky stuff Andrew. Hot air that does no justice top the people who are in the trade already being given NO support by their freeholders. The Freeholders take NO RISK. ALL the risk is on the side of the people that oeprate their pubs. I defy ANYONE to prove me wrong.

Andrew Pring should know a hell of a lot better, being so close to the trade; but perhaps that's why he doesn't.

Jonathan Neame said there's no way to talk about 'teid leases' because there are so many different models - each PubCo has it's own version blah blah blah. Well Mr Neame. I have worked in this trade for twenty years and in the last ten I have not met one, not a SINGLE, person who has a tied lease or a tenancy of any description on a single outlet who's said anything other than 'the PubCo has got me by the short and curlies'. Of course no one's going to say that to Jonathan's face because he probably never meets anyone on the shop floor and if he does they're probably doffing a cap to him. What else could be expected from someone who's at the top of a feudal system, patriarchal though Shepherd Neame may be by comparison with Enterprise, Punch, Green King, S&NPE and the other bigger outfits.

Mike Bell, well Mike said some of the right things but didn't get his message across and anything incisive he did manage to squeeze in between all the pontification from the pro-pubco lobby was countered by the others' slightly jocular 'oh it'll be alright when the trade's all shaken out and the crap licensees are down the pan' attitude. It was a bloody whitewash.

On a lighter note, The Black Swan - what's going to happen to their rent when the PubCo sees their 'diversification' and own enterprise has netted them an increase in profit? They'll rentalise the Prince's Trust's investment.

There you are. That's a bit more of an attack on the beer tie. Nowhere near comprehensive enough and not enough swearing I reckon.

I won't get it all off my chest until my BDM gives me an idea I can work on or a piece of product support I can actually use and the pubco admits they are ripping me off and that my rent should go down instead of go up by 40K.

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