Hyndburn MP Graham Jones highlights plight of pub landlords

Lancashire Telegraph: MP Graham Jones MP Graham Jones

AN EAST Lancashire MP is highlighting the plight of struggling pubs.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said he was backing calls to regulate the relationship between big pub companies and their tenant landlords.

Campaigners are urging the government to introduce measures so landlords can buy their beer freely on the open market rather than being contractually committed to buy pub company prices.

As the number of pubs closing per week has recently risen, he is supporting a campaign by CAMRA, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Independent Pub Confederation, the GMB and UNITE Unions, the Forum of Private Business and Fair Pint.

He said: “Many factors have an influence, but the unfair and unbalanced relationship between licensees and their landlords, the large branded pub companies or “Pub Co’s” who dominate the market, has undoubtedly played a part in this sad decline.

“Pubs are vital hubs for communities and are valued strongly by local people, but due to the government’s inaction and broken promises on backing small landlords they are closing at an ever-increasing rate.

“The number of pub closures has risen to 18 a week and more than 200 pubs have been converted to convenience stores in the last two years alone.”

Though the government has agreed to calls to implement statutory regulations, it is unclear yet what form they will take, or will include a ‘free of tie’ option regarding alcohol purchases.

Chairman of East Lancashire’s Campaign for Real Ale, John Webster, said: “We are trying to be heard by the government but it’s a long hard slog.

“The way some pub companies treat their landlords is completely appalling. Many people see signs on pubs urging them to run their own pub, but if they make a success out it, it is reviewed and the rents go up.

“Eventually they are forced out and the same sign goes up for the next candidate.

“We ask ourselves over and over again why they would put their own pubs out of business, but we are just unable to explain the shortsightedness”.

Comments (2)

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10:42pm Wed 16 Jan 13

petepowers says...

There is a much bigger picture to this issue. Its not just the price of the tied product or the rent which is killing pubs - it is also many other issues relating to many small businesses. Too much legislation which takes a while to slowly strangle a business, too high VAT, too high business rates, employer NI contributions, these are just a few!

I have tenancy/leases on two tied properties - one with a local regional brewer and one with a big national pubco. I have fought and won a substantial rent reduction with the national pub-co but they have no respect for me as a business owner and offer zero support - they simply collect the rent and charge inflated costs for my beer products. I'm responsible for all repairs on the building and constantly feel I have to battle with them. The relationship with the regional brewer could not be more different - they offer loads of support, are open to simple negotiation and keep the building in good repair. I might pay a higher price for the product but I do appear to get a portion of it back in other services.

Neither of my pubs would survive now on their own if they were expected to support a "living wage" for the occupiers. As a slightly larger "small" business, we are muddling though - supporting the local economy and paying our taxes.

Not all of the pub industry problems can be laid at the door of the brewers/pubcos. Government must take its fair share of the blame for the way it has penalised all small businesses in this country. Pushing through legislation to solve one problem caused by larger national companies will also cause harm to smaller regional brewers. Please make sure you take on board all the arguments before making decisions and adding more rules to our lives!
There is a much bigger picture to this issue. Its not just the price of the tied product or the rent which is killing pubs - it is also many other issues relating to many small businesses. Too much legislation which takes a while to slowly strangle a business, too high VAT, too high business rates, employer NI contributions, these are just a few! I have tenancy/leases on two tied properties - one with a local regional brewer and one with a big national pubco. I have fought and won a substantial rent reduction with the national pub-co but they have no respect for me as a business owner and offer zero support - they simply collect the rent and charge inflated costs for my beer products. I'm responsible for all repairs on the building and constantly feel I have to battle with them. The relationship with the regional brewer could not be more different - they offer loads of support, are open to simple negotiation and keep the building in good repair. I might pay a higher price for the product but I do appear to get a portion of it back in other services. Neither of my pubs would survive now on their own if they were expected to support a "living wage" for the occupiers. As a slightly larger "small" business, we are muddling though - supporting the local economy and paying our taxes. Not all of the pub industry problems can be laid at the door of the brewers/pubcos. Government must take its fair share of the blame for the way it has penalised all small businesses in this country. Pushing through legislation to solve one problem caused by larger national companies will also cause harm to smaller regional brewers. Please make sure you take on board all the arguments before making decisions and adding more rules to our lives! petepowers

3:01pm Fri 18 Jan 13

pwitch says...

Petepowers is quite correct regarding the legislation from government, however the tied lease situation with firms like Enterprise is ridiculous as their wet stock prices are so high and at least £100 a keg more than can be bought free of tie, so it is not possible to continue in business without many sacrifices to personal well-being and income. If for any reason a delivery is late and a publican has to buy 'out of tie' the landlord is fined by having additional charges added to his account - often £900 at one out of tie situation even if the delivery error was not his error. The high rates charged in some areas also cover pubs of course, and together with the current energy prices and extra overheads for playing music and gaming machines and event licenses etc etc it is a wonder any tied house pubs exist, especially with the current brulines situation.
Petepowers is quite correct regarding the legislation from government, however the tied lease situation with firms like Enterprise is ridiculous as their wet stock prices are so high and at least £100 a keg more than can be bought free of tie, so it is not possible to continue in business without many sacrifices to personal well-being and income. If for any reason a delivery is late and a publican has to buy 'out of tie' the landlord is fined by having additional charges added to his account - often £900 at one out of tie situation even if the delivery error was not his error. The high rates charged in some areas also cover pubs of course, and together with the current energy prices and extra overheads for playing music and gaming machines and event licenses etc etc it is a wonder any tied house pubs exist, especially with the current brulines situation. pwitch

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