The haves and have nots - MA Editor Andrew Pring

By Andrew Pring

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Licensees Beer Andrew pring Partner Editor

The haves and have nots - MA Editor Andrew Pring
Our annual survey of how licensees are feeling about their businesses and their pub companies highlights what a tough time many are having. Half of...

Our annual survey of how licensees are feeling about their businesses and their pub companies highlights what a tough time many are having.

Half of our respondents expect to make less money this year than they did last year.

That is not a great place to be.

But frankly, with the horrendous energy rises and the equally horrendous off-trade price falls, it's perhaps not surprising that so many pubs will do less well this year than last.

What's crucial is how much less they'll make, and that we just don't yet know - but barrelage figures down by nearly 7% on average across the survey give a rough indication.

What's far more encouraging is that more than 45% of licensees feel they'll do as well this year as last, or do better (of that figure, 28% say the same, 17% say better, and the rest don't know). These licensees are clearly doing all the right things, and despite the tough business climate, are reaping their rewards.

But to say that is not to say that the licensees whose profits are falling are doing the wrong things. They are often in difficult pubs in difficult areas, with difficult pub companies. Many of

the anecdotal stories that come back to us

with the surveys tell heart-breaking stories of licensees not getting help when they're floundering.

Previous MA surveys have shown that the people who are meant to help - the BDMs - are often not up to the job. This year, a quarter of licensees say their BDM is poor or very poor.

Against that, a third say their BDM is good or excellent. So the picture that emerges is of licensees divided into two nations - the successful, who are looked after by their pubcos; and the unsuccessful, who sadly, by and large, are not.

Overall, only one in six of our licensees say their pub company is making more effort to be a better partner than it did last year. Given the difficulties so many licensees are facing, pubcos need to be trying much harder with this particular nation.

There are very few people of whom it can be said, "We'll never see the likes of him again." But there will certainly never again be a John Young. A towering personality, a saviour of real ale, and a delightful and life-enhancing man. His love for pubs and beer and their place in the world was infectious and inspiring. The pub trade stands sadly diminished by his death. He will be very sorely missed indeed.

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