THE GUV'NOR

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Related tags: Greene king, Traditional community pub, Public house, Bury st edmunds, Smoking

John Baldwin Pubcos need to do more to protect the traditional community pub, says the licensee of the Big 6 in Halifax, Yorkshire I recently took...

John Baldwin

Pubcos need to do more to protect the traditional community pub, says the licensee of the Big 6 in Halifax, Yorkshire

I recently took the decision to remove all Greene King products from the bar, not a decision taken lightly as the best selling beer was Greene King IPA. It was an action taken due to Greene King's disposal of a large number of pubs that were not going to fit the "smoking model."

Adding insult to injury, these pubs were put on the market with development potential, but probably not as pubs. And the final nail, all were wet led pubs. The Big 6 has 100% wet sales.

There was little I could do when Punch, the owner of the Big 6, also sold off a large number of pubs that have an uncertain future under the new smoking legislation. Again, mainly wet led, again much like the Big 6.

It was a novel approach to the smoking ban! Sell those pubs that aren't going to make money. It's done in other industries, why not the pub industry? Herein lies the problem. The local is no longer a pub; it's an outlet. The landlord is no longer a landlord; he's a retailer. The pint has become a unit and those who frequent the pub are consumers. The pub is no longer the centre of the community, it's a commodity that will be traded for its highest value, be it a pub or be it flats.

It is OK for pubco bosses to espouse the opportunities opening up before us, but not all pubs are gastropubs; not all pubs want or are suitable to attract families; not all pubs want big screens and karaoke, and there are a fair few customers out there that just want a quiet drink.

In a recent promotion, Greene King stated: "We at Greene King, brewers of Britain's favourite IPA, are committed to supporting the Great British pub. But we can't do it alone. So join us." Perhaps it is time that they and the other leading owners of Britain's drinking heritage protected the traditional pub, so conserving the 150 years of history that the Big 6 and the like have to offer.

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