Pring: Pubcos must join debate

By Andrew Pring

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Great british pub, Mass media

Pring: Pubcos must join debate
MA editor Andrew Pring says it's high-time the pubcos joined the debate on the hard times ahead for the industry. "If you've had time to read any...

MA editor Andrew Pring says it's high-time the pubcos joined the debate on the hard times ahead for the industry.

"If you've had time to read any papers recently (other than the Morning Advertiser, that is) or listen to the radio, you may have noticed that the national and regional media have woken up to what's happening in the pub trade. And journalists everywhere are starting to take a real interest in what's happening to The Great British Pub.

Being journalists, they use pubs a lot, and they'll talk to their licensees and ask them what's going on.

Pretty regularly, it seems, they're being told: Not a lot. And then it pours out: rent's too high, pub company's useless, smoking ban's killing the trade.

The journos will also have noticed that many of their favourite pubs are closing.

Many London landmarks have shut their doors for ever in the past 12 months. They're now on their way to being homes or offices. Hundreds of other pubs are boarded up, waiting to see if new licensees can be tempted to invest their life savings and give it a go.

Naturally, seeing all the doom and gloom around them, and discounting the pubs they see still doing well, because that's how they believe the trade naturally is, the journalists sense a story - The Death of the Great British Pub.

Which is why the Morning Advertiser is getting invited regularly on to shows or phoned by columnists to explain what's going on.

And given the way trade is moving, there seems little prospect of the invites drying up.

The media knows the historic role of the pub in British society, knows its cultural importance and is naturally sympathetic to this wonderful institution. So it will keep on asking what's happening to our pubs.

Real challenge

This presents a real challenge to the trade. Because, let's face it, what's going on is not very pretty.

Times really are grim, and many, many licensees are - for a combination of reasons - having a very tough time.

Some licensees are on the verge of bankruptcy or have already gone under. Naturally, these are the most vociferous licensees. And they are the ones whose voices will increasingly dominate the Great British Pub Debate.

What was striking about a Radio 4 You and Yours pub programme last Friday was how, despite the strong encouragement of the producers, nobody from the national pubcos was prepared to go on air.

Jonathan Neame from Sheps did take up the invite, and explained extremely well the current pub-trade pressures.

But he represents only one part of the trade. And it is high time that some of the bigger companies were prepared to engage in honest debate about the way the trade really is going."

Related topics: Other operators, Legislation

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