Friday, October 10, 2014

Communities Fighting to Save Pubs Don't Have a Chance in the Face of The Great British Pubco Scam

Villagers ready for fight to save much loved pub

IN Worcester News First published Tuesday 7 October 2014
Old Bush Inn by John Law herefsxworcs Flickr
Firstly it's important to make clear that companies like Marston's exist purely to make profit. The fact that they do this through brewing and distributing beer and by owning pubs does not mean they look after pubs for the best interests of the thousands of tenants they rent pubs to under tied leases (where the publican has to buy beer at up to double the open market price through the beer tie) or the millions of customers the pubs serve. 
Busy meeting to Save the Pub
This pub was sold because Marston's is selling all their pubs that don't produce as much profit as their directly Managed pubs do (where they own the pub and employ all the staff directly), and they invest the cash raised from sales in expanding their managed and new build pubs. These pubs are always pastiche, imitations of authentic pubs which, apart from branding are impossible to tell apart from other pub companies' efforts in the same area (they're all at it - Greene King, Spirit, Mitchells & Butlers - there's absolutely loads of them, even the 'small family brewers' are trotting out the same anodyne carbon copy formula food and drink dispense units across the country) . This is all part of the Great British Pubco Scam where Private Equity is asset stripping traditional British pubs for their property value while wilfully destroying thousands of publicans' businesses, their livelihoods, their family stability and the enjoyment of the millions of people who have used their pubs as Valuable Community Assets for hundreds of years.

Earlier in 2014 Marston's sold more than 200 trading pubs to New River Retail who are in the process of converting them to other use, often into supermarkets, specifically to get around irritating issues like communities trying to prevent change of use when they hear their pub is going to be sold. ACV only comes into force when the owner puts the building up for sale... If change of use is planned by an existing owner the ACV status offers no protection at all. An example of this kind of activity designed to get around the small difficulty that ACV status confers on a building is that pub companies elsewhere - Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns - have begun renting their pubs direct to Tesco.

Second: Almost everything the article states about protection conferred by of Asset of Community Value is wrong:

ACV status does NOT impose charity status on a pub, or any other community asset, and ACV has nothing to do with the Charities Commission.

Once granted, ACV status puts a six month moratorium on the sale of a property by its existing owner to another owner. AS the Bush Inn is already owned by the person who wants to develop the pub ACV has no impact here - the pub has ALREADY been sold. The horse bolted when the pub was bought at auction.

ACV status does not OBLIGE the seller to accept an offer from the community who raised the ACY even IF the community has raised finance and made the highest offer for the pub/asset.

From earlier comments it's clear that this pub would thrive if properly invested in and well managed.

While I know nothing about this pub directly these things can be stated with confidence as the same thing is happening to pubs all over the UK where 31 pubs are closing forever every week. It is a national crisis taking place in plain view of us all but largely ignored because between them the pubco's and tied pub owning brewers like Marston's have deliberately divided and conquered the nation and bamboozled public opinion about pubs through their industry mouthpiece the British Beer and Pub Association - their trade body who put out press releases continuously telling that pubs are closing because of dozens of problems that amount to a perfect storm for the pub sector.

BBPA says pubs are closing because of external economic factors like - the smoking ban, beer duty excalator, tax generally, business rates, competition from cheap supermarket booze, changing consumer habits, bad weather (seriously!), red tape, social media, television and home entertainment. There are a million reasons why people are abandoning pubs - none of which are the sky high prices the BBPA's members charge their tens of thousands of publican tenants for their Tied rents and wholesale beer supplies they oblige them to buy at up to DOUBLE open market prices... Leaving the majority of pubs in the UK to compete against the Managed Divisions of the pubco's while selling over priced beers they cannot make a living profit out of (because the pubco/brewer makes all the profit) in premises that are run down, dilapidated and not fir for purpose because the publicans don't earn enough profit to be able to invest in their businesses and the fabric of the buildings they have total financial responsibility for maintaining under fully repairing and insuring leases on the buildings the pubco/family brewers own but have not spent any money on for thirty years.

The BBPA never points out that pubs are closing primarily because its own members' force usurious charges on their tenants and they are profiteering on beer supply prices. It is pubco's sweating assets that cause most publicans in Britain (57% of all Tied Tenants) to earn less than £10K a year, usually between two people - Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) figures.

Good luck with the campaign


  1. Shock. horror - a plc putting the interests of its shareholders above those of its tenants and customers!

    There's absolutely no evidence of this 2x pricing which you keep repeating (and keep promising to provide such evidence)

    It's not just tied pubs that close - free traders do as well (CAMRA figures), and that's got absolutely nothing to with the beer tie.

    It's also worth pointing out that 25% of free traders earn less than £10k pa (CAMRA figures)

    1. You don't pay attention. I posted double pricing information on another thread where you were pontificating your constant denial bullshit. You're just plain wrong and you know it. Your agenda is corrupt, your position is indefensible and You're always hiding behind the convenient veil of anonymity.

      You should feel privileged that I don't just block you from posting your pro pubco propaganda you pathetic private equity poodle

    2. And, of course, you have a habit of doing very limited research - such as using the 'Pubco's Morning Advertiser' at a source of information. And of course you'll deny this too but PMA is a totally unreliable publication which generally pumps out the pubco party line in all things; even to the extent that of someone like me suggested on the PMA forum there was editorial bias in their coverage Rob Willock, it's 'petrol head' editor, would imply that libel was being bandied around and simply bar publicans access to the forum.

      You and he would get on great together

  2. As I pointed out on that other thread, you compared Punch's list price to GK's discounted price, ignoring the £100 or £160 per barrel discount which PBC tenants enjoy.

    Tied tenants do not, in general, pay 2x FOT prices (although there may be the odd exception), FOT pubs do close and 25% of free traders are as badly off as 57% of tied tenants.

    Name calling won't change those facts, the latter two of which are documented in the links I posted.

    1. Piffle. You forget you're not defending a business model you're promoting a massive, concerted, corporate fraud, a scam, nothing less than behaviour of a cartel designed to close as many pubs as possible while blaming everything and anything imaginable for the torrent of pub closures that are leaving Britain bereft of vital local social resources and civic amenity places and community cohesion.

      Punch tenants do not 'enjoy' discounts at all. The "wholesale list price's an invention devised to enable pubco's to 'offer discounts' that are utterly meaningless and bear no relation to costs to the open market.

  3. Do you deny either of the two facts - from the PMA sure, but quoting CAMRA figures - on FOT tenants' earnings and FOT pub closures? If you don't then at least we can agree on something; if you do then on on what alternative source of information is your denial based?

    On pricing do you accept that £148 is the Punch list price for Carlsberg? Do you accept that the PBC offers discounts of £100 or £160 off the list price? If you don't then on what public source of information is your position based?

    (If tied prices were 2x FOT, then the pubcos' GPs could not possibly be as low as 42% -- EI and Punch accounts)

    You'll note that I keep posting evidence; you keep denying the evidence without providing any counter to it.


    Page 9 of this hardly pro pubco document shows that tied prices are indeed higher than FOT - by between 49% and 77% (before any allowance for tenants' discounts from list price).

    2x just isn't happening.

    The same document confirms the FOT earnings figures I quoted from the PMA, and also shows that roughly the same percentage of FOT tenants see themselves struggling financially as tied tenants, and that 32% of freeholders earn less than £10k.

    1. Yawn

      No matter how many times you come back and niggle about 'just not happening' everything I've stated is factual.

      Your repeated assertions don't change what happens in reality. CAMRA are painfully cautious about anything they get involved with - they don't want to be accused of hype or exaggeration.

      Your supporting the pedestrian 49% to 77% pubco profiteering supply prices over open market prices is amazing in itself. The facts are that in practice publicans who are free of tie and have a decent business can negotiate great supply deals that trounce any figures CAMRA or will ever publish - and those deals don't get into the public domain because of the SCAM - remember the SCAM?

      I've had people give me invoices but asked me not to publish openly because they're concerned their supply deal will dry up if it's made public.

      And you keep implying that these figures are not accurate because they don't take into account tenants' 'discounts' - what are you on? Backhanders? Most tenants don't get 'discounts' anyway. This fact even surprised me when I met, tenant after tenant who had NO discount off national wholesale list price. Discounts started to be bandied around when the pubco's found it increasingly difficult to get people to sign their lives away on new leases and the majority of discounts on longer term lessees' accounts are 'concessionary', short term and sometimes even repayable.

      You are welcome to quote figures from PMA - they publish anything that's put in front of them. There are no really accurate stats for any of this in public domain anyway but look to Rick Muir's 'Tied Down' publication by IPPR for some more solid research and then to Ignazio Cabras work at York University

      'Tied Down' the beer tie and its impact on Britain's pubs

      Anyway I'll get round to uploading the invoices when I have time.

  5. Tied tenants do not, generally, pay 2x FOT prices. I've posted a mass of evidence to that effect. You just keep denying the evidence without producing any of your own (although you've been promising such evidence for almost two months)

    The independent reader of these exchanges will no doubt reach his or her own conclusions on where the truth lies on pricing.

    I note that you avoid the direct questions on whether you accept the CAMRA figures on free of tie earnings and closures which show that some pubs struggle and/or close for reasons that are nothing to do with the tie.

    1. ON FACTS, PMA and CAMRA

      The point, which you are most definitely a part of, is that this is all a SCAM. This is going to take a while. Any independent reader will note that you are not providing fact at all...

      The fundamental difficulty you have is that none of the 'facts' that you produce are facts. They are data and material available in public domain which is sourced entirely, originally, from the pubco's offices generally via BBPA and all figures they give out are manipulated to make the pubco's appear blameless for any of the manifestly obvious disaster that is the collapsing Tied pub sector and is entirely the result of their mismanagement of their estates due to their fraudulent asset stripping business model. Of course there are pubs that do close because of other factors, just as sometimes a lorry hits a cyclist, but generally they close because the rents are too high and they are paying up to double open market prices for beer. Oh and a restricted supply range too.

      That said I don't need to deny anything. All you or anyone walking down the streets and lanes of Great Britain has to do is open their eyes, then glance at the interest payments published in the annual accounts of the pubco's and then at the number of 'disposals' they publish each year - it's all very plain to see. IF you open your eyes and don't take the pubco and BBPA LIES for being in any way a reflection of reality. You see it's a SCAM no more, no less.

      That said. PMA is not a reliable source, it is not an investigative publication, it is a TRADE JOURNAL. It reports verbatim whatever is sent to it in press releases by BBPA, pubco's or whoever - like gravy granule manufacturers for example, on the one hand and on the other it avoids substantially detailing any real publican experiences at the hands of their pubco's on the same grounds that everyone in the whole of the 'neutral' world of reporting and observation use which are that there must always be 'balance' and the pubco's are given the opportunity to contradict anything and everything that is remotely negative of critical about them and their appalling behaviour. They occasionally allow a bit of satirical comment to creep into the publication in the form of a blog, or where a well informed Minister or MP puts out something in which case it's published without editorial comment and the pubco comes along with their contra diction.

      So we have an entirely skewed reality where the BBPA and the pubco's are able to publish anything they like without any independent verification and there is no referral to any independent critic for comment or any 'obligation' whatsoever for tenants, the oppressed, to be consulted for 'balance' at all.

      The pubco's are quick to threaten litigation. I know this but imagine you will expect me to 'prove it'. I can't be bothered quite frankly. I know it happens and I cannot prove it the way you will demand so there's no point in trying. Oh, just had a thought. Punch and Enterprise each threatened 'independently' to sue the government if Market Rent Only is introduced - on grounds that MRO would be a violation of their 'human rights'. What a laugh.

    2. cont...

      CAMRA is caught up in the same problem. They cannot access truly verifiable independent data about the Tied pub sector - to do so is incredibly costly - a whole market survey would cost hundreds of thousands and no one has the financial resources or is prepared to commission it. So sampling is done and the results are treated with caution and presented well within skew tolerances so they cannot be accused of trying to set a 'fit up'. The OFT is particularly good at that sort of exercise. Anyway CAMRA is polite, cautious and highly risk averse. So their data about Tied tenants' incomes, shocking though it is, is not an accurate reflection of what really happening on the ground.

      And of course there are free market pubs who don't perform well too - the economic environment flows around all businesses but the point here is that a Tied pub alongside a Free pub is not an equal competition. All things being equal (which of course they are not - as there are bad publicans, dreadful market conditions and utterly broke communities who cannot afford a beer) and all things being equal a Tied tenant is earning a SHED load less than any Open market tenant or freeholder. Anyway a lot of 'Open Market' pubs are run down, knackered and not fit for purpose, the freeholders having not spent a penny on them for decades either but that is a different story for the time being.

  6. Cont...


    £148 is the list price for Carlsberg at Punch and yes some tenants do get discounts from the profiteers - particularly tenants who are relatively new - the discounts have been appearing since 2009/10 as the pubco's have found it increasingly difficult to get tenants. BUT the substantial part of the estate is on no discount whatsoever. Now you can ask me to prove this as much as you like - and you know very well that I cannot. I know many, many tenants who get NO discount. And I admit that EVEN I WAS SHOCKED, when I first began to go into Tied publican's pubs to try to muster support for Fair Pint to discover that people ACTUALLY HAD SIGNED LEASES where there were NO DISCOUNTS. But there's loads of them. I am NOT making it up. Besides even your sorry attempts to excuse the appalling prices these shyster pub companies charge the tenants who are WITH discount still amounts to 67% more than open market.

    The 11 gallon keg £74 (or less) open market price being HALF the Tied price of £148 comes as a matter of course to free of tie publicans who have a decent volume of 300+ brewers' barrels a year when they negotiate their supply deal. Some of them probably don't drive a hard bargain and get the best deals but I assure you it's not difficult. It happens all the time. And if you're a MULTIPLE OPERATOR well, beating the half tied price is easy.

    What you know probably (given the evidence is that you buzz around here trying to make what I say seem like it’s inflated and exaggerated) is that it IS a massive SCAM. Why else are you sniffing around someone like me all the time? It’s weird. What I don’t understand at all is why YOU think I would LIE. Why would I waste all my time doing this if I could just be proved wrong by some weird anonymous nobody like you? I don’t get PAID for any of it you know. I do this because IT NEEDS TO BE DONE and I can do it without fear of reprisals when no tied tenant can do that – for fear of losing everything they’ve got by being bullied out of their livelihoods and homes... No, I have a deep moral outrage, and an indignant and just reason for that outrage, I am furious that white collar middle class Shysters with no morality, people who do not care about pubs or people or places, are RUINING British culture, RUINING thousands of people’s directly and impacting on the lives and social enjoyment of millions more AND ripping them ALL off and getting obscene salaries and the reward of huge unwarranted bonuses for CLOSING AND SELLING thousands of pubs for alternative use. It is WRONG! Why would I lie about it? I don’t need to make any of it up. It’s all in plain view.

    It is a SCAM and everyone in Britain is paying the price in draught beer that is a POUND more than it should be and in losing thousands of pubs that are vital community amenities and essential social resources that ALSO happen to be the iconic bedrock of many age long traditions and customs.

    These shyster pubco's are ripping the fabric of the nation apart, doing it in plain sight all over the country and people like you are aiding and abetting the directors who should be held to account, prosecuted with extreme prejudice for trading fraudlently, for genuine human rights violations against thousands of publicans and their families, the communities they serve and for the deep social damage they are leaving in their grotesque, shabbily profiteering wake.

    You'll note that what you post is not 'evidence' at all. It is damaged material that is designed to obfuscate, misrepresent and hide the cultural crime that is the Great British Pubco Scam.

    You can call me a liar, you can say I've got an agenda, whatever you like to say but nothing you SAY changes the FACTS which are that you are wrong and I am right.


    1. You present your side of things as though the wholesale price list is in some way relevant to the cost price of beer – as if ‘discount’ actually MEANS something. It does not. The TRUE standard wholesale list price is roughly £200 a brewers’ barrel LESS than the FAKE nationally published price. The OFFICIAL price is set BECAUSE OF THE TIE – so the pubco profiteers et al can OFFER ‘generous’ discounts for Tied publicans to ‘ENJOY’ as you like to put it. What YOU fail to admit is that NO ONE who’s open market EVER pays anything like the wholesale price. There are two price lists; The Tied and The Open Market.

  7. As I said earlier, the open minded reader will draw his or her own conclusions on pricing.

    Once you dismiss even CAMRA's surveys as "...damaged material that is designed to obfuscate, misrepresent and hide the cultural crime that is the Great British Pubco Scam..." then there's really nothing more for me to say (except perhaps that even FDFYL didn't present evidence of 2x in their "setting the record straight" document even when making no allowance for discounts. -

    Unless they're in on it as well!

    1. Hey Ho. You're the one who's promoting the damaged material to suit your own ends. You're just going round and round promoting obfuscation - that is the Scam that you're wrapped up in.

      How about you move onto more interesting subject matter and begin to explain the behaviour of your beloved pubco's when they misrepresent all the ingoings and fraudulently assert that a tenant will earn far more than is possible - then allow naive, completely inexperienced people to sign their leases - encourage them to - sell houses and move in above a pub, use all their savings to invest in F&F and minor improvements when the pubs need comprehensive retrofitting and refurbishment to bring them up to code, sell them beers at up to double the open market price - while telling them they're getting a Low Cost Entry into Self Employment and 'enjoying competitive discounts' and then eighteen months later when they're struggling to make rent payments - withhold beer supply, blackmail them, send bailiffs in chase them for their home (if they still have it) and their car - remove all their assets and end up evicting them and force them into bankruptcy - homelessness and totally broken lives.

      Go on - explain that passage of events won't you?

      It is happening all the time, all over the country - on the asset stripping route to oblivion when a pub has had so many tenants' broken and churned through it that it's in such bad disrepair, so chronically underinvested that no one is prepared to stick their neck out and rent it that the pubco sells it for alternative use - or leases it direct to Tesco. That IS a good one. Pubco's leasing to Tesco. You couldn't make it up.

      But I'm sure you'll just think all of this filth is either exaggeration on my part or just acceptable cut and thrust of contemporary business practice eh?

      Go on - explain that. You cannot - because again I'm telling it like it is... and there's nothing you can say that can justify this grimy corrupt archaic Tied pub sector you spend so much time trying to promote

  8. I'm trying to focus on your flawed assertions on pricing which fly in the face of all the publicly available evidence - which you persistently dismiss without producing any counter evidence - but on the broader point I have come across this:

    "....The tie is not universally bad (see paragraphs 8-9) and the latest independent annual survey –
    conducted by CGA strategy – showed 7 out of 10 licensees would sign up again with their
    pub owning company (although this does leave up to 3 out of 10 who would not (i.e.
    5,000-10,000 unhappy publicans))..." - (The actual CGA figure was 74%)

    It's those pesky facts getting in the way again - it may be bad for some, but not all.

    1. You never answer when I ask you a specific question. You always avoid it by writing about something else, like what you are trying to focus on.

      There are no facts getting in the way.

      You ARE trying to get in the way. Who's paying you?

  9. You're tedious

    The latest price I have for an 11 gallon keg of Carlsberg is £64.16. This is real it is true. You don't believe me because you are part of the Great British Pubco Scam and your job is to always try and prove to 'the open minded reader' (you sound like a 1950's Boys' Own writer) that there is nothing untoward going on in the pub sector when it is utterly, manifestly obvious that pubs are closing everywhere - pubs that millions of people believe should NOT be closing. All anyone who's open minded has to do is open their eyes and look at our pubs all over the UK to see that you are wrong and it is completely obvious that I am right.

    You went to Punch's website to look at the Carlsberg list price of £148 for an 11 gallon keg.

    You then went on to imply that I am disingenous in my assertions and I know that NO ONE pays this price, which is simply untrue - I know plenty of people who DO pay full price - no discount at all -

    And then you suggest that most tied publicans routinely 'enjoy' £160 a barrel discount on an 11 gallon Carlsberg keg - they do not.

    1) Punch's list price for Carlsberg is £484.36 PBB (Per Brewers' Barrel)
    2) Punch's price without discount for an 11 gallon keg is £148
    3) I know loads of publicans tied to Punch who pay £148
    4) Carlsberg are selling the same 11 gallon keg for £64.16 in the open market
    5) Half of £148 is £74
    6) £64.16 is less than half the price of the Tied price
    7) Punch is a lying, cheating, scamming zombie company that is trading fraudulently and doing everything within the power of the board of directors to cover it up.

    What you are trying to focus on is promoting bogus information that is publicly available because it is all part of and parcel of the SCAM.

    My assertions are not flawed, I tell it as it is - what I publish is the truth. I have never said anything that is not directly to my knowledge what REALLY is going on in the pub sector.

    You use what you call 'publicly available evidence' - figures, stats and material which are quite simply meant to be available and flawed -and designed precisely so to 'prove' that the Great British Pubco Scam is not happening. The reason it's called a scam is because it is a scam. It is a cartel, fraud on an industrial scale. The directors of the companies who abuse pubs, people and the places they serve should be going to jail for mis-selling their damaged goods.

    Where else in the world does a declining market see its main players putting their prices up year on year? This is not capitalism it is a closed shop, it is, A SCAM.

  10. Do you accept the CGA survey results on tenants who would sign up again with the same landlord? If you do then the picture cannot be as black as you paint it. If you don't what's your source for tenants' dissatisfaction levels? Where's it published?

    I'm sure that there is some Carlsberg available at the price you say, and that there are some tenants who pay full price, but analysis of everything in the public domain shows that it's not general.But you describe everything in the public domain that I've posted as bogus, and you will not/can not post anything else that's in the public domain so I think we've come to a full stop.

    To answer your question - my pension fund pays me.

  11. What was that about not answering specific questions??!!

  12. Do you accept the CGA survey results on tenants who would sign up again with the same landlord? If you do then the picture cannot be as black as you paint it. If you don't what's your source for tenants' dissatisfaction levels? Where's it published?