Monday, August 05, 2013

The Pub is Dead. Long live the Pub.

Through the Beer Orders to the upcoming Statutory Code the essence of what is 'the quintessential British public house' has never been in doubt - although putting it into words has always been a challenge - it's the distillation of an indefinable mix of charming hostelry, individual, quirky, sometimes dishevelled often finely appointed, fiercely individual, idiosyncratic, accessible buildings with amenities ranging from the most basic; a hard worn bar with stools whose fare is little more than beer and crisps, to sumptuous fully functioning restaurant and cocktail dispensary with five star room service hotel above - good pubs are like glue to good communities and over centuries and through generations the indefinable varied character of the British pub has become emblematic of the nation.

Under ownership of remote giga property companies owning thousands of pubs all over the UK Pubs have lost their way driven by a private equity culture inexorably steered by corporate interests rather than those of the Great British punter.  Relentlessly flogging pubs to provide financial performance for boardrooms and Shareholders rather than a good experience for the Punter has removed profit from the shop floor of the industry and made it impossible for publicans to invest in their businesses, leading to pubs being underinvested in and dilapidated while the managed sector, which is invested in, has led to 'retail solutions' that are brand led, ever more homogenised and anodyne which actually manage to move further and further away from our lifestyle needs into those of cash generation. The pub has lost its way in an industry sector that's morally, creatively and, in the case of the largest non brewing pub companies, financially bankrupt, devoid of character, individuality, authenticity with any originality flogged to death by blind corporate greed.

Despite the carnage no one can ignore, there remain loads of fantastic pubs dispersed all around Britain,  operating healthily and infusing communities with life, purpose and energy - and no doubt there would be many, many more if it were not for the hegemony of the 'Great British Pubco's'.  These numerous toxic companies' meddling and asset stripping has removed, stunted, depressed out of existence almost all innovation, investment and evolutionary progress in the entire pub sector since the beer orders of 1989... by which time the big brewers had already become commercially bloated and creatively moribund through gorging themselves in the doldrums of the fat, slack, lazy monopoly they'd built between and around themselves; since then the pubco's, envisaged vaguely to bring diversity and pluralism as the saviours of the pub sector have created a closed market that is EXACTLY the opposite impact to what was intended.

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