It is fair to say that I think the creation of large Pub Companies with their accompanying mountains of debt and avaricious habits has done far more to damage the UK pub industry than Tesco et al. I know it is open to considerable debate, but it is clear that moving from a position when the infamous Beer Orders came in to deal with the "monopoly" that was the Big Six Brewers, we went from a position where around 90% of the pubs in England and Wales were free of debt, to one where they were mortgaged to the hilt and beyond. Each time a pub company has bought another one, (and they are huge now, far bigger than the "problem" that was intended to be fixed) another few thousand pounds of debt has been heaped on the pubs and subsequently to the rent the tenant pays. At each stage of this spiralling game, money has been taken out and debt put in, to the point where pubs have become unviable. The tenants misery is added to by being tied - beer choice is dictated by the Pubcos by and large - and sold to tenants at inflated prices. Add changing lifestyles and habits, along with cheap supermarket beer and you have a losing formula. A desperate hope of survival against the odds for a lot of licensees.
The pub companies still don't get it though and continue on their anti competitive and losing ways. They are the true enemy of the pub lover, squeezing the assets until the pips squeak. And boy are they squeaking now. So much so that even our MPs have noticed something is amiss. Anti-pubco MP Tim Farron speaking at the official launch of the Fair Pint group, which wants the tie removed from all pubs, except those owned by brewers with fewer than 500 sites, said the Fair Pint campaign group is "pushing at an open door for another select committee hearing". Tory MP Sir Nicholas Winterton added: "There is a growing concern in Parliament about the power of the pubcos and how they are exploiting landlords."I believe an inquiry is long overdue."
Too bloody right it is Nick, but let's hope it isn't "too little, too late".
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