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Punch: 'no intention' to close popular alternative pub

By Nikkie Sutton , 07-Dec-2016
Last updated on 07-Dec-2016 at 10:35 GMT2016-12-07T10:35:14Z

Caroline of Brunswick, Punch, Duncan Garrood, Caroline Lucas, Brighton
Caroline of Brunswick, Punch, Duncan Garrood, Caroline Lucas, Brighton

Punch has denied claims it plans to close Brighton's 'only alternative pub'.

The Caroline of Brunswick made headlines after Brighton Pavillion MP and the pub’s namesake Caroline Lucas waded into the battle to save the site .

However, Punch CEO Duncan Garrood said: “Punch has no intention of closing the Caroline of Brunswick pub; a hub of cultural, music and comedy entertainment in Brighton.

“The lease agreement is due for renewal in November 2017 and as such, the pub will operate as either part of our established Falcon model or under a five-year tenancy agreement.

“Publicans currently operating under the Falcon model have fed back to a high degree of satisfaction to date and because of this, increasing the Falcon model is core to Punch’s ongoing business strategy.”

Feeling of concern in the community

Punch’s retail agreement, Falcon , gives an open-ended time frame to licensees and gives them a percentage of turnover, with licensees only responsible for paying staff.

Garrood added: “Our local teams are working closely with the licensee and his team to ensure the pub remains open and continues trading to the community it serves.

“We fully appreciate and understand the feeling of concern within the community regarding the future of the Caroline of Brunswick.

“Regardless of the outcome on the lease renewal, Punch has no plans to sell the pub and will continue to ensure it provides hospitality and entertainment for the community.

“In line with standard company processes, we have also discussed with the licensee the change to our business strategy and the different options that are being considered for the pub’s future.

'Generic chain pub'

However, the pub’s lease holder, Cliff Barnes, who has been at the venue since 2006, said it would be disappointing if Punch did not renew his lease.

He added: “It would be a shame if Punch took the pub back for themselves as I have spent all this time building it up into a really unique venue and my hard work and business would be gone.

“If it becomes one of their managed houses under the Falcon model, it will be a generic chain pub and communities will lose somewhere they feel safe and Brighton will lose a comedy venue.”

Barnes also said he was due to meet with Punch at the end of this week and added: “Everything is a bit up in the air at the moment as they had not mentioned a five-year tenancy to me until Caroline Lucas contacted them and they wrote back to her, but I am feeling quite positive.

“I have a feeling the strength of the campaign and Caroline Lucas getting involved has taken Punch by surprise.”