Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Calling Time

There is a long and interesting piece, titled as above on the plight of pubs in the Guardian today. Read it here

17 comments:

The Woolpack Inn said...

I could go on at length about this, and probably will do sometime.

But think: if "Running a pub was never going to make anyone very rich" then when it gets tough it'll make no living at all.

There is less money than ever being spent in pubs - that's why they are closing.

Thanks for posting the link, very interesting.

Jeff said...

Poorly written and rambling, with some fairly obvious truths hidden in there. The story of the chap who wilfully broke his tie and was then surprised to be evicted is simply bizarre.

Tandleman said...

A bit rambling yes and there is only one winner in the Pub Co game. The guy here just made a certain loss, even more easy for the Pub Co.

The obvious truths may be obvious to you and me, but to how many others who aren't involved with this business one way or another? The Pub Cos need to be exposed as the villains they usually are.

The Woolpack Inn said...

Stonch, the article is rambling and does tackle some issues in a less than eloquent way. It's difficult reading, but your need to persevere. That's difficult to do when you are a busy licensee.

But you need to read deeper, it's the pubco's properties that are surviving, and this plays right into your argument.

Only 13% of pubs closing are owned by major pubco's.

Over 50% are freehouses.

I think that the tie does represent a problem, but it is not all evil either.

The real problem here is pubs closing. Releasing the tie won't help that. I'm not sure that anything will and that's what we might need to accept.

What a long standing lessee does when his lease is worthless is a problem. He plays the game most of the time, starts to try a bit of skulduggery ‘cause he’s got no choice, gets caught out, fair cop I agree but the pubco won’t loose. Go out in a coffin? I’m bloody sure I would!

Tyson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyson said...

Only 13% of pubs closing are owned by major pubco's.
Over 50% are freehouses."

I'd take these figures with a pinch of salt as clearly it isn't in their interest to accept any blame. I would be very interested in looking at any real data they could produce. Having carefully tracked pub closures locally, I can say that 100% of those closed in the last 5yrs were tied. That's not to say that freehouses can't and don't close but those are the facts.

Tandleman said...

I find this business of 50% of pubs closing are free houses a bit hard to swallow. How are these figures compiled? What constitutes a free house? If you own the bricks and mortar and can't make a good fist of it, well I am shocked, though of course some will fail.

All around here there are closed and boarded pubs. All as far as I know are all Pub Co pubs though one or two are Lees. Maybe they can still find the mugs to run them, but surely that rich seam will soon dry up - once they have milked the last out of this recession's redundancy money that is.

These figures ae fishy to me.

Jeff said...

I think people need to back their assertions up with arguments rather than simply bashing pubcos and the tied system.

In the case of the person referred to in that article, he'd deliberarely chosen to flout his contractual obligations, so on the face of it I don't have much sympathy anyway. We have to remember that pubs are businesses. Some people aren't cut out to run their own business - it requires imagination, competence and a degree of intelligence. The unsuitability of so many publicans for the job their doing is, I think, one of the major reasons why so many pubs are going under, but it seems one no-one's willing to speak up about.

Of course some CAMRA die-hards love the idea of old retired couples running musty, quiet pubs that haven't changed since the 70s, but the rest of the population rightly avoid such badly-run establishments, so they don't make any money.

Tandleman said...

"The unsuitability of so many publicans for the job their doing is, I think, one of the major reasons why so many pubs are going under, but it seems one no-one's willing to speak up about."

Absolutely. Exactly, 100% agreed. Why do PubCos contract so many unsuitable people then? You are changing the argument here by saying CAMRA die hards etc. CAMRA people like well run pubs better than most. We are more likely to get good beer there! A lot of people, me included feel the shake out is largely happening at the bottom end of the trade and you won't find many tears for them. But it isn't just the bottom of the trade that is suffering any more. The malaise is wider and deeper and the PubCos with their hugely indebted - sorry securitised - estates, have a lot of blame for the pressure even good pubs are feeling. That debt which occurred after the Beer Orders and has been added to with each buy out and PubCo merger is still there and being repaid by publicans. Who else can pay it?

This is a complex subject but it flies in the face of reality to suggest that the companies who own such a large percentage of British pubs have no blame in this and it is all the fault of stupid people who take on pubs. Oh and CAMRA members.

Tyson said...

"The unsuitability of so many publicans for the job their doing is, I think, one of the major reasons why so many pubs are going under, but it seems one no-one's willing to speak up about."

That may account for some but not the majority, IMO. My personal experience tells me that it is long standing landlords throwing in the towel. People who have been running successful pubs for many years. When they go under, let's not be shy about naming the culprits. As TM says it's farcical to suggest that the owners of the majority of pubs in the UK aren't responsible to some great degree.

What amazes me is the sheer inflexibilty of companies supposedly interested in making money. There are landlords locally who wish to hold beer festivals to boost their trade. Something that you would think would benefit all concerned. However, Enterprise won't allow it. And then they wonder people are sceptical about their role in the pub trade.

Rednev said...

I agree with the Woolpack Inn's straightforward comment: "There is less money than ever being spent in pubs - that's why they are closing". So why are people spending less? I think the answers are rather obvious: beer price rises well above inflation; inflation well above wage rises; increasing job insecurity. The problems of the tie have been thoroughly covered before, but it is clear that in the present deteriorating economic climate with a recession on the way, many businesses are struggling in general, not just in the pub trade.

The mandatory sideswipe at CAMRA members doesn't explain pub closures, and I don't actually know anyone (CAMRA member or otherwise) who wants "old retired couples running musty, quiet pubs that haven't changed since the 70s". Why would anyone?

We can expect worse as the long term effects of the credit crunch filter through to the pub trade. We have already seen this with Cains, where hard-working licensees and their staff lost their livelihoods with little notice, not because they were inefficient or broke the tie, and definitely not because CAMRA members went wandering around Merseyside in search of quiet, musty pubs operating in a time warp.

The Woolpack Inn said...

..eeerrrrmmmm.

Take a look at my blog Pubs are closing, are we really that surprised? if you haven't already.

I am also suspicious about the figures, but I highlighted them to try and point out that Stonch was being, well kinda like he's accused tandleman of being on his own blog.

As for the price of beer and pub owners, I will have lots to say about this…..more coming.

Stonch, you clearly have a good city pub. Well done. But there are many not like yours. Lay off a bit eh?

Tandleman said...

Dave - Stonch makes a very important point about those who run pubs. Hospitality? Don't make me laugh. You are lucky to get a " hello" or "thanks" in most pubs, never mind an actual welcome. I'm out today and I'll report back on that aspect tomorrow to see how I've got on.

Oh and Stonch has his own way of doing things. It is all diversity in this game.

Rednev said...

"You are lucky to get a " hello" or "thanks" in most pubs".

This is not my experience; you must be going to the wrong pubs. I'm not sure that busy bar staff have the time to give a full welcome to everyone who comes through the door to buy a pint, especially if it's 2 or 3 deep at the bar. I find most bar staff are polite at the least, and while I don't travel as far afield as you, I do get to a fair number of pubs in different towns.

The Woolpack Inn said...

Thanks Tandleman, I'm still learning to type comments, read them twice and then consider NOT hitting the "Publish your comment" button.

I guess everybody has different styles. I work best when authoring "long and rambling" posts rather than short, curt and abrupt replies.

At least Stonch keeps giving me ammunition for further posts, so I should be grateful really. Cheers Stonch!

I agree with the problems of hospitality, but you get what you pay for to some extent. If cheap beer results in the staff being paid less then they will be poorer quality staff.

Jeff said...

"This is a complex subject but it flies in the face of reality to suggest that the companies who own such a large percentage of British pubs have no blame in this and it is all the fault of stupid people who take on pubs. Oh and CAMRA members."

Quite. Good job I said nothing of the sort, then!

To the landlord of the Woolpack Inn: I don't mean to upset you. I'm just expressing an opinion. I do recognise that other pubs are really struggling.

The Woolpack Inn said...

That's all right Jeff.

Theses are difficult times with difficult issues, you can't make a cake without breaking eggs!!