Save the Great British Pub



During these unprecedented times on the evening of Friday 20th March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the elected Government took the understandable yet extraordinary step of closing all pubs and restaurants by the end of the evening.


Many of our pubs were already struggling with the adversity of dealing with intransigent companies and onerous contracts as highlighted in successive Government inquiries since 2004. On the 21st July 2016 Government finally lost their patience with these companies, after over a decade of ignominious failure of self-regulation and brought in the Pubs Code as part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015. Unfortunately, due to an ineffective Pubs Code Adjudicator, gaming of the law by the companies and in some cases just wilful disobedience, the Code and Adjudicator have failed to re-balance the power and failed to ensure that the tied tenant is no worse off than the free of tie tenant.


The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), the self-professed voice of the Beer and Pub industry, who in reality are the voice of the pub companies, have claimed that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is clear that the grants afforded to pubs was to help cover fixed costs including rent. Unfortunately, the BBPA continually fail to represent the licensees that run the pubs or the customers that use them, whilst claiming that they do, they continue to fail abysmally in representing a large majority of our Great British pubs, this is totally unacceptable. Pubs have many fixed costs and whilst the grants are warmly welcomed and will help with licensees fixed costs other than rent, Justice for Licensees remains of the opinion that the British tax payer should not be propping up these morally bankrupt companies.

Not all pub Companies are behaving the same and for that we are thankful, some pubcos are supporting their tenants and their pubs, as they should. The likes of Admiral Taverns, Adnams, Everards, Fullers, Hall and Woodhouse, Harveys, Holdens, J W Lees, Palmers Brewery, Shepherd Neame, Wadworths and Youngs have cancelled rents and are keeping the situation under constant review, these companies have shown that they can be willing to work as the partners they profess to be, this is a step in the right direction. Then we have the other side of the coin, the underbelly of the trade, that continue to show that their only concern is financial benefit for themselves, ut semper. Companies such as Brakspear, Batemans, E I group (Stonegate pubs), Greene King, Marstons, Mitchells & Butlers, New River Reit/Hawthorn Leisure, Punch Taverns, St Austell Brewery, Star Pubs and Bars (Heineken), Tavern Property Company, Thwaites, Trust Inns and Wellington Pub Company have only deferred rents, they are not willing to share the pain of their pubs forced closure, which means no income for the pubs. These companies want the British taxpayer to pay their rents, to support their questionable and unethical business model.

Inez Ward, founder of Justice for Licensees, said ‘I can think of no justifiable reason whatsoever why the British tax payer should pay for the salvation of companies that act the way that these companies have, the money would be much better spent on the NHS and other frontline workers and services during these challenging times. Some pub companies have escalated themselves to actually starting to care about the Great British Pub, there appears to be no reason, other than greed, that the other companies have not followed suit. As usual these companies’ actions will always speak louder than their words.’

 Kevin Roberts, Council member of Justice for Licensees said ‘These are desperate times and these appalling POBs still cannot wake up and treat their partners with the help and true support they need at this time.’

Karen Fullard, Council member of Justice for licensees said 'These pubcos purport to be business partners with their lessees yet they have no interest in really supporting them. It is transparent to everyone with an ounce of sense that the pubcos are merely interested in their real business model, which is to rape every last penny they can from their prey. To expect the taxpayer to bolster their businesses is laughable but is the sad reality of the help offered by government.'



Tuesday 7th April 2020

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