Representing industry interests - or empire building?

From The Publican

By Hamish Champ , 16-Nov-2009

Related topics: Company & City News

It's not an understatement to say that last week's spats between various pub trade bodies failed to impress the Square Mile. Again.

 

Speaking to a City type about the industry the conversation turned - inevitably, given the week we'd had - to who spoke for the pub trade. 'Too many people,' was his conclusion. It's not the first time I've heard this line nor, I'll wager, will it be the last.

 

Yes, there are vested interests across the trade that simply cannot be represented under one umbrella.

 

But I can't escape the feeling that what we're seeing is a bout of empire building, and one that serves little purpose.

 

The division between pubco and tenant seems wider than ever. Meanwhile, representative groups are vying with each other to show that 'they' are the ones to carry the fight to the enemy - whoever that is in any given week.

 

The internecine shenanigans reminded me of an old Psychedelic Furs song called 'It Goes On'. The song's chorus goes: "It goes on and then it goes around again/it goes on again/it goes on…" etc. Applying a 1980 tune to the industry seemed apt as wrangling within the sector goes on and on, and doesn't look like it will be stopping anytime soon.

 

Following so soon after what was termed a 'mediation' process, what we have now seems a million miles away. And that's not good. At all.

 

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Tomorrow sees the UK's second-largest pubco, Enterprise Inns, announce its annual results. Business has been tough, as it has been for everyone, and while things are believed to have stabilised, analysts expect group pre-tax profits to come in around 20 per cent below last year's £263m.

 

Sector watchers will be looking for signs that trading is turning a corner. They may have to wait a bit longer…

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