Sunday, December 01, 2013


Marston's, like all the other pubco's LIE, and make claims like 'food not beer has become the main reason that people visit pubs', This because like the rest of the mainstream UK pubco's they have lost sight of what pubs are about and what they are for and have become entirely lazy about operating pubs... Pubs to plc Pubco's are simply items on a balance sheet that have an income stream linked to each entry. When the income stream drops below a pre determined line mapped out on a profit & loss projection graph it's an asset that is not performing well enough that should be put up for review flagged 'suitable for disposal' (they call it churn in the pub sector).

Pubs are all about income stream and stable predictable future profit without doing any work. Marston's and the others have lost the skills the pub sector needs - 'HOW TO RUN PUBS PROPERLY' and quite just don't know how to make pubs work any more. As far as they are concerned running a pub estate is about doing it all through a spread sheet.

The evidence for this is all over the British landscape and, quite frankly, has been in front of our noses for two decades. It's been consistently obscured and smoke and mirrored by pubco's and the British Beer and Pub association with the never ending stories they pump out of pressures put on the trade created by:

*Cheap imported booze from the continent
*People drinking more wine due to going on holiday abroad, coming back and expecting other things from pubs
*Drink driving legislation
*Increased minimum wage
*Red tape generally
*Business rates
*The smoking ban
*Beer duty escalator
*Competition from supermarkets
*The recession
*Cafe culture
*Increased VAT
*Demographic change - people moving up and expecting FOOD
*24 hour licensing
*Unintended consequences of the 1989 Beer Orders (unspecified)
*Bad weather
*The Olympics
*Supermarkets' meal for two Gastro Pub Ready Meals
*A hundred other things that have NOTHING to do with the fact that pubco's charge their tenants too much for rent and double open market prices for beer and other supplies - which is REALLY why pubs have been closing everywhere

All these things have an impact on everything in our world and while they apply pressure on pubs' viability they are not the real reason pubs are closing.

The REAL reason our pubs have been dropping like flies is that the majority of pubs have suffered from chronic underinvestment for decades. This began in earnest with Enterprise Inns, then Punch Taverns copying them to mimic their financial performance and then got into full swing as the rest of the 'Plc Pub Sector' reviewed their practices and decided to slavishly follow the devils since then OUR pubs (in essence and emblematically pubs belong to the people) have been comprehensively asset stripped by pubco and brewery accountants maximising returns on investment while minimising expenditure on their estates.

They've done this systemically through abuse of contract. Companies like Marston's (they are all like it really - they are all as bad as each other) have hoodwinked thousands and thousands of individual licensee/lessees to invest small amounts of money in their pubs, selling them a 'low cost entry to running their own business' - amounts that are enough to give a failing business a shot in the arm for a year or two but never enough to keep the business premises in good enough condition to stay ahead of dilapidation, atrophy and becoming run down in the long term... which leads to customers going elsewhere for better amenities, products and service - the pubs get quieter and emptier until the tenant goes bust to be replaced by another and another until no one's dream of running the pub is crazy enough to overcome the obvious - it'll never work again unless someone completely rebuilds the business from the ground up... at which point pubco / brewer puts the freehold on the market and flogs it off...

In the case of the pubco's they put the income from sales into gargantuan debt mountains they have NO chance of ever paying off and...

In the case of the brewers / less indebted pubco's they use the proceeds to fund either new builds (as with Marston's although debt is there too) or to invest in their managed estates which, surprisingly as they have NOT been asset stripped, remain busy, 'bucking industry trends' and attractive to customers even though they are bland, anodyne boring carbon copy food and drink dispense units they call pubs.

The antidote to this appalling attrition of the UK's most important cultural tradition and sense of place is being worked on, has been being worked on for three years, and is coming soon... A bit later than planned. It's the People's Pub Partnership. Don't want to fall foul of no advertising rules but google it and there is a website...

No comments:

Post a Comment