This post was prompted by news that Paul Newby, the Pubs Code Adjudicator, will leave the post at the end of his four year contract; Job Done. Got me thinking about where we are at with pubs. It's not good. It's really bad.
The Pubcos are packing their bags. Newby, Pubs Code Adjudicator, has given them the space they needed to keep on damaging Britain, get out on their terms, without taking a hit. Now Vulture Capital owns the Pubco roosts and it's OUR pubs that are their carrion.
For my friends who are customers of, rather than people who work in and around our unique British institution that is the world's original social network, the humble Pub...
If I can attempt a distillation of what's been happening in to YOUR PUBS over the last 30 years, to explain why they've been closing absolutely everywhere in spite of the FACT that the majority of people in Great Britain would LOVE to have a great LOCAL PUB in their neighbourhood, but don't because of the #GreatBritishPubcoScam
The Beer Orders
In 1989 Thatcher's government brought about the Beer Orders to end cartel and monopoly behaviour in the beer and pub sector with a few giga breweries ruining the country's pub experience with the intention of making a pub sector that was open to competition at every level so that WE, pub going consumers, would get a better range of beers in our local pubs and a freer market that would see pubs develop, evolve, innovate and be naturally more responsive to customer demand and so better serve the public.
This led to the huge brewery owned pub estates being broken up and the pubs being owned by pub companies which emerged to operate and preserve the national pub estate and make it more entrepreneurial and exciting for the benefit of future generations. 😉
Before long these new 'PubCos' owned most of OUR pubs and quickly got into manipulating the market for their own financial advantage by leasing the pubs to individuals who'd take on all responsibilty for every aspect of 'their' pubs maintenance and upkeep, in perpetuity, through fully repairing and insuring tied leases with the pubco obliging them to buy beer at prices set by the pubco... a practice known affectionately as 'the traditional age old beer tie' that has worked for generations to keep pubs alive (they forgot the need for the Beer Orders of course). The pubcos had invented a guaranteed ever growing double income stream for their business plan projections: Tied rents would always go up, without the pubcos having to pay for maintenance of the national pub estate, and the tied supply prices would increase every year ahead of inflation and the publicans would absorb ALL of the increases by making their pubs busier and putting their prices up - none of that was the pubcos business. The pubcos business was only to make money; the maximum return possible for the minimum outlay they could get away with it: the Lessees would do all the investment and pay all the bills for the whole sector.
Pubco profiteering through outrageously aggressive rent increases and their wholesale beer prices to tenants rising well over inflation and brewery gate price - within a decade the pubcos were geared up to asset strip Britain's heritage, traditions and Sense of Place by subterfuge in plain sight: Thousands of individual pub businesses would fail under financial pressure of the pubco prices but while publicans went down the pan all over the show, their pubs were left standing ready for another lessee to come along and make a go of investing in their own business - to be screwed down by the pubco, go out of business and free up the pub for another mugging by the pubco (pubcos call this 'lessee churn'). When a pub has had ten lessees fail in succession it's not had any work done to it for a decade or more, there's been no development, evolution or innovation whatsoever. Just a lick of paint here, a new picture there, a bit of gaffer tape on the carpets and seats where they're worn out. The pubs end up run down, smelly, unfit for purpose and people stop going to The Pub - everywhere - because people won't frequently socialise in run down asset stripped stinking shit-holes; Quite rightly too. Eventually the pubs are so run down no prospective lessee is insane enough to take it on, and customers have long forgotten what it was like when it was a well looked after, brilliant place to hang out in.
The pubcos say 'a series of entrepreneurial professional publicans have not been able to prove the pub's viability, sometimes we have to acknowledge habits have changed and the customers just aren't there anymore. Sadly we have to make a difficult business decision to sell pubs when they are no longer economically sustainable'; For alternative use. TO cash in on alternative asset value and use the income to pay interest on the loans the pubco raised to buy the pubs in the first place. 😎 Nice job. Blame the customer for closing their pubs.
This process has been happening to the majority of OUR pubs, the tied pub estate, for thirty years. The pubs have been asset stripped in front of us. The pubcos have failed in everything except making money out of failure: They created a rapidly shrinking national pub estate locked in a chronic downward spiral of multiple small business failure while the Big Business has become a parasite surviving on the mass sell off of Britain's most cherished, irreplaceable, precious and worldwide unique social assets, for alternative use, forever.
Basically British Pub Culture - OUR invaluable national social heritage - has been wilfully attacked by greedy tanned wealthy wine swilling mohair suit wearing white collar cultural criminals calling themselves Executives of 'Pub Companies' rather than feeders of vultures.
This behaviour has been known and recognised officially since 2004 when the Select Committee looking at the relationship between pubcos and their lessees told them to shape up or be prepared to ship out. It's 2019 now and nothing substantial has happened in all this time.
Other than a thousand plus pubs closing forever, every year like clockwork leaving communities all over the UK with nowhere to socialise and do all the life things we used to do down the pub as cultural events - birth, birthdays, engagements, weddings, funerals, cradle to grave. Most of that doesn't happen down the pub anymore - because they've been closed down by bad business.
It is an absolute scandal and the pubcos just keep on getting away with it.
Below is British Tied Pubco Reform, A Timeline for Dummies which I put together in 2016. To try and get across just how little had happened in 12 years of reform of the tied pub sector. Ie a sum total of ZERO...
... I put it together and pushed it around before the Pubs Code, which was supposed to change all of that above and help SAVE pubs, came into effect. Before the pubcos put a placeman in the Adjudicator's seat to make sure they could pack their bags and get out of the sector on their own terms without so much as a ruffled sleeve of a mohair suit. It needs updating. Since I did that the situation has only got worse for pubs... I knew in 2016 that I would probably be writing something like this in a few years after the Pubs Code was implemented; Because I had no doubt by then - now - that nothing would happen except the same. We the public would be hoodwinked, led along a path to nowhere.
The Pubs Code adjudicator, Paul Newby, today announced he'll be leaving at the end of his 4 year contract. He's done his job. All the main pubcos have been carved up and new venture capital is coming into the pub sector to finish off the end of the British Pub. The paragraph below is taken from the Government website 'An announcement from Paul Newby, the £130K a year Pubs Code Adjudicator. The highlighted bit is all you need know is total, palpable, measurable, horse shit. I'm looking forward to reading what the Beer Writers think is happening in the pub sector now cos they're going to butter it all up as they always do.
See the video on this link. It was made in 2012 and, I swear, it could have been made in 2019 without changing a word
It is absolutely disgraceful that nothing has changed. THOUSANDS of lessees have been put out of business and the communities they served been robbed of THEIR pubs.
Don't get me started on the Climate Crisis. Deniers everywhere. Sound familiar? We're living in Emperors new clothes.