Thursday, August 21, 2014

Community shocked by sudden closure of The Lyndhurst

Appalling. This is called The Great British Pubco Scam.
photo from Get Reading
It is happening, continually and increasingly so, all over the UK as pubs close everywhere while Tied Pubco's and Family Brewers, who slavishly follow their toxic 'low cost entry business model', are asset stripping our national traditions, our cultural heritage and sense of place in plain sight, everywhere, by flogging off pubs for alternative use as fast as they can.

This commercial activity of closing pubs and selling them as property assets has a permanent destructive impact every community it happens to.  These companies run down the pubs by fleecing successive tenants, charging too much rent and up to double the open market price for the supplies they oblige them to buy, churning tenants through the pub, lease after lease, until the buildings become so run down no one will rent them again

Then, having proven that no one wants to go to these pubs anymore, because they are run down, knackered boozers that are not fit for purpose, they tell the communities:  'If you'd used it you wouldn't be losing it, you only have yourselves to blame' and sell them for alternative use.

 In some instances, such as with Marston's pub company, they openly say they use the money from such disposals to build new pubs (those ones that are like motorway service station cafes) and they do this all over the country too - build pubs that are so branded, blanded, boring and carbon copy; 'bars, kitchens, counters and eateries' (they usually try to slip in 'traditional pub' somewhere), that, apart from the various logos, you can't tell who owns them or even that they are pubs anymore.  And you certainly don't go to these places to socialise or on the off-chance of meeting someone you've never met before... 

Look around our cities, towns and villages. Look across the entire landscape from John O'Groats to Land's End.  Nowhere is immune to Pubco Blight.  It's worse than Dutch Elm disease and Ash Die Back put together, it's impacting communities everywhere as we lose our places of congregation and comfort, our most treasured places, our homes away from home, forever.

Going are the days of the Great British Pub, this really is a crisis. It's a White Collar Cultural Crime.


  1. On a forum elsewhere a fellow licensee made this comment:

    "Mark: Having been in the industry for 20 years on both sides of the bar and having dealt with some of the PubCo's on a personal level and basically losing everything I do agree but I really don't think it's fair to have a go at Marstons - at least they ARE building new pubs where new communities are springing up and whilst they may not be my cup of tea and very corporate looking, they're catering for families and people who want more from a pub than Ronnie and Eric stood at the bar reading the Racing Post nursing a pint of Tetleys.

    They've got a new build programme which is to be commended not rebuked simply because they're not The Spit And Sawdust Arms."

  2. And I responded thus:

    Marston's are among the worst. I know pubs they have ruined, absolutely run into the ground through wilful neglect. And I know lessees they have fleeced.

    As for the new builds. If Marston's had any genuine integrity or intention to continue the great tradition of the Great British Pub, whether sawdust sprinkled or not, this would be tangible as you (one) stepped into one of their new pub projects. Do they convey, reflect, put a nod in the direction of what's going on in the real world of the 21st century architectural advancement? Are they 'of their time'? Do they exude anything that might be interpreted even a faint shadow of the contemporary zietgeist? Are they relevant to our society other than as units for dispensing comestibles? Do they continue the valuable historical timeline of the pub other than as sad monuments (with a twenty five year lifespan in a retail park) to the intellectually empty vacuum that created these fast builds as they reach for better EBITDA? The only legacy people like Findlay expect out of a new build 'pub' is increased over all volume of mass produced ping it food and bulk made beer, better financial performance and trebles all round the board room when the bonus package they wrote for themselves gets agreed by the shareholders.

    No. These are not pubs. They are modern retail spaces, pastiches that come out of what Marston's design team and its head employee, Ralph 'I like to know what's going on in my pubs' (but don't do anything about) Findlay, think defines the typical traditional British pub.

    I do get out occasionally and know several of their new builds where I've eaten or had a drink or two that are utterly bereft of character, individuality and indistinguishable from say a Vintage Inns site or a Greene King, or any number of the mid to upper market pubs that M&B are pumping out all over the UK... They're anodyne, empty places where the only character might come from the staff team,whose brains and hair colour the corporate machine cannot shape entirely successfully so that, sometimes, by mistake a bit of ill managed individuality comes into contact with the customers on the shop floor. The only joy the pubco's cannot remove from their pubs is their people's inner most personality.

    These places are designed purely to be family friendly food and drink destination venues where people come in, sit down, scoff and go with as quick a turnover and as little fuss as possible...

    These are not pubs, and Marston's are the masters at making them accessible to as many of the population they can reach.

    Just think, for every one of these pubs they open, each of which they finance by selling off several of their 'under performing tenanted sites' they are able to put financial pressure on a whole lot more of their old model tenanted pubs by outgunning them them with efficiencies that come from the central administration services, greater buying power, economy of scale, training resources, communication and marketing tools and all manner of things that individual publicans cannot hope to match... And they don't even recyle money through the local economy. It's really bad all round.

    It's all a slide away from where pubs really should be going in the 21st century.

  3. You seem to have missed this statement in the report:

    "...A statement from Enterprise Inns, which owns the pub, said: “We can confirm that The Lyndhurst has closed following the publican’s decision to cease trading.

    “We are currently in discussion with the publican and would like to reassure local residents that we aim to have this great community pub back open and trading at the earliest opportunity.”

    If they renege on that, then they're fair game, but in the meantime they seem to be making the right noises.

    On the Marstons issue, although their pubs may not be to your liking their "destination and premium" sites turned over an average of about £1m each last year. Some people obviously like them.

  4. The words stones and glass houses spring to mind.

    Despite all your rhetoric on the subject on the thread two below, you have yet to provide any evidence of a single tenant paying twice FOT prices for a single product, You "had the evidence" on 20 Aug, then you "hoped it was coming" on 21 Aug; since then silence.

    I have demonstrated six ways from Sunday that 2x, if it applies at all, must be the exception and not the rule, and in any event is partially offset in the rental calculation.

    By contrast, you challenged me to come up with a single tied tenant with a good word about his landlord (although I'd never mentioned the subject), and a google search took about two minutes to find one.He may be the exception but he exists - and 74% of tied tenants would sign up again.(2013 CGA survey reported in PMA)

    EI have made a statement which may, or may not be empty rhetoric. If it turns out to be so then they're fair game, otherwise you're presuming guilt.

    These things aren't black and white; they're always various shades of grey. If your case is that the shade is a very deep grey (which may very well be the case), why prejudice belief by insisting on black? I'm not insisting on white!

  5. Thank you for outlining some of your apologist position to keep justifying your cronies' behavour at Great British Pubco Scam HQ.

    It IS black and white and your nitpicking doesn't get you on high ground. You're always going to be in a swamp. Look at the landscape and ask where all those boarded up pubs came from at the same time that Punch and Enterprise reduced the size of their estates by several thousand pubs since 2008.

  6. I note that you don't seem willing to debate on factual matters. That reinforces my opinion that some of your claims have no basis in fact.

    I don't consider it nitpicking to point that out.

    There are many boarded up and demolished pubs, and many which are now in alternative use. I don't know how many of those were former free trade/managed and how many were former tenanted. It may be 99/1 or 1/99, but I suspect it may be about 40/60. But if you have the actual documented figures I'll accept them of course.

    1. One more on pricing.

      Someone called Andy the Chef has posted an invoice on Twitter.

      It shows £98 for 11 gall Fosters..

      On the 2x rule that means either he's tied, and FOT price is £49 (£13 more than the duty) or he's FOT and the tied price is £196. But tied price is about £151 (Star price list)

      My guess is that he's FOT and he's paying about 2/3 of tied price, but in any event 2x just isn't happening as a matter of course.

      Why can't you just admit it? It would give your arguments on anything else in the future much more credibility.

      (Your current position smacks of that of your colleague Steve Corbett, who was insisting, not so long ago, that the 2014 duty cut wasn't passed to pubs - it was of course, but he point blank refused to admit it.)

    2. By the way. Your coming back all the time doesn't change what's happening to tied publicans and their pubs... Your spotty oik nitpicking simply doesn't change what really goes on in the industry. What is it about you? What motivates people like you to spend all that time trying to pick holes in statements and presentations that the odd person like me make about the abuse of pubs, people and places that the pubco's are wreaking all over Britain? What is it? Eh? Are you PAID to do it? Or have you just earned shitloads out of being part of it in the past and you're still fond of the bullying and piss taking and bankrupting and deal breaking and asset stripping and mediocre intellectual pursuits in pubco board rooms?

      People like you, and there's a surprising number of you really, anonymously creeping around the internet pontificating about everything not being exactly the way the tiny number of licensees, publicans and tied lessees brave enough to stick their neck out and tell the world what's really happening in the usurious, outmoded, barbaric, knuckle dragging, back water fiefdoms populated byy testosterone steeped ignorant bullies that is the Tied Pub Sector? You LIKE associating yourself with all of that fuedal behaviour and utterly unsustainable business practice do you?

      Do you really think someone like me - an ex publican totally shafted by the blunt edifice that you tirelessly protect and defend would be so thoughtless to make statements such as 'tied prices up to double open market' if I didn't KNOW it really IS the case? I had a pub that was doing 550 - 400 barrels a year. On that volume I could get discounts FOT that easily were half what I had to pay through the tie. I EXPERIENCED these things - you sit around implying that people like me and Steve are liars, or stupid, or plain wrong whatever. Why do you think we put so much work into all of this? Because we are deluded? Because it isn't happening? You think we are fantasists?

      You do it all the time because we have traction, because we're fundamentally on solid moral ground and our arguments are accurate and on the money. You don't like it because it threatens wherever it is you come from. Either that or your a weird amateur with too much time on your hands, who doesn't know very much, who tries to make yourself feel better about the things you feel inadequate about in yourself.

      It doesn't matter what silly schoolboy nonsense you keep coming up with the fact is you're wrong. There are loads of instances that make tied prices double those of free of tie.

      Anyway. got to go.

    3. Beer supply prices, September 2014 – figures from LSL

      11 galls Carlsberg: Punch Buying Club tied price = £148.54
      11 galls Carlsberg: Greene King free of tie price = £76.99 or buy 6 get 1 free = £65.99 per 11 galls

      OR, that’s less than HALF the price of Punch's tied supply prices

  7. Factual matters.

    You're the one dealing in surface gloss not facts. Look at the thousands of boarded up pubs. See the communities all over Britain who don't have a pub. Look at the tens of £millions of working family tax credits being paid to thousands of publicans. Look at the hundreds of small brewers who can't get their beer into pubs all around them because the tie keeps them out. Look at the prices they get screwed down to by SIBA and the pubco's when they DO pay to get on the lists - to deliver their beer to tied pubs at prices that are lower than they would be paid if they were delivering to the same pub if it were free of tie. And look at the invoice their tied publicans are getting from SIBA for the beer they delivered and see that it's forty quid more than their best price...

    These things are not facts?

    Go on.

    It's a FACT that you actually went and found the New Statesman interview and calculated that on what I said then, as if THAT were FACT that my tied prices were ONLY 1.67 times more than the amount I was paying free of tie then.

    That isn't a FACT that is hearsay. And you think 1.67 times more is just fine and dandy don't you?