The Publican's 30th Birthday: Bobby Neame

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Bobby Neame, chairman of Shepherd Neame, helps mark The Publican Newspaper's 30th Birthday.What were you doing 30 years ago? I was chairing Shepherd...

Bobby Neame, chairman of Shepherd Neame, helps mark The Publican Newspaper's 30th Birthday.

  • What were you doing 30 years ago?

I was chairing Shepherd Neame. At that stage we were looking to buy more pubs that were becoming available, and we were negotiating with people such as Whitbread. Then we were one of the first to brew our own lager: Hurlimann lager. We still have it.

What has been the biggest change in the industry in the past 30 years?

The implementation of the MMC report, which was a total miscalcuation. It was where government started interfering with normal market forces. But it gave us an opportunity to expand and buy other houses. Until then we weren't able to really compete because of the different financial structures.

Which individual has had the biggest impact on the pub trade in the past 30 years?

Alec Rankin and Brian Stewart were very clever exploiters of the new scenario, and they were the only major British brewer that survived

What are the biggest challenges for the next 30 years?

We don't yet know the impact of the new licensing laws. But I think they are flawed in that they are judge and jury of the situation, in respect of whether a licence is granted or not - they open it up to politicial involvement. Also we don't know yet the impact of smoking - although if the government gives us enough time that will sort itself out.

When did you first read a copy of The Publican?

As soon as it was produced we had copies available at the brewery

Do you have a message for us on our 30th birthday?

Your essential survival to report objectively on trade matters, and to act as a catalyst for issues to be taken to the government, is invaluable to the trade.

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