Pubco protest: as it happened

By Gemma McKenna

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Punch, Protest, Enterprise

Protesters outside Enterprise HQ
Protesters outside Enterprise HQ
The Morning Advertiser's blow-by-blow account of how events at the pubco protest outside the HQs of Enterprise and Punch unfolded, plus a photo...

The Morning Advertiser's blow-by-blow account of how events at the pubco protest outside the HQs of Enterprise and Punch unfolded, plus a photo gallery of the day's action.

0901​ The bus of licensees from South East London has departed with around 15 licensees and bar staff on board including Fair Pint founding members Steve Corbett of the George Canning pub and Mark Dodds of the Sun and Doves in Camberwell. They hope to meet up with other buses of licensees from across the country.

The campaigners don't expect immediate action today but are hopeful that the protest will get much needed publicity for their campaign.

0907​ Also on board are the Albrecht family who have three Enterprise pubs. They say that times are hard.

0918​ Just reached Uxbridge on the way to Enterprise HQ in Solihull. There are plenty of sandwiches, drinks and biscuits, particularly Ginger Nuts, being shared around. All are looking forward to reaching the destination.

0938​ Several Enterprise lessees are disappointed they may not get to speak directly to the pubco's chief operating officer Simon Townsend. He believes the protest is not the right way to conduct a business relationship (Enterprise: dialogue better than protest​).

1004​ The licensees have made placards with slogans such as "Sick and tied" and "Fair Pints for all" to use at the demo.

1016​ Organiser Inez Ward has 70 people with her waiting to meet the London bus.

1107​ London bus has almost arrived but driver is lost.

1158​ Around 200 licensees and their staff are now outside Enterprise HQ in Solihull. Licensees have gathered from across the country. There are police on site but it is a peaceful protest.

1202​ Former Enterprise lessee Colm Powell has brought his coffin along and is being wheeled past Enterprise HQ (Enterprise lessee on hunger strike​).

1205​ News is received that two of the protesters will be allowed to go and deliver the letter calling for action to Enterprise (Protesters call for end to beer tie​).

1246​ The chant from the protesters is: "Why are we here? Can't afford beer."

1259​ Protesters have now been told that they are not allowed to deliver the letter to Enterprise's front door. Protest organiser Inez Ward tried to convince the police to deliver it on their behalf but they have so far not accepted to do so.

1322​ Protesters are now back on the bus and heading for Punch Taverns HQ in Burton-on-Trent. There is a sense of jubilation among the protesters despite no-one from Enterprise agreeing to accept the open letter.

1329​ Fair Pint founding member Mark Dodds gives his half-time verdict. "It's exactly what I'd hoped for. It's been fairly good humoured so far too."

1412​ The protesters have now arrived at Punch HQ. They are met by Punch head of facilities Steve Allen who directs the protesters to a designated area on Punch grounds. He explains that the regional managers are inside and willing to meet any Punch lessees for a chat and a coffee. The atmosphere seems more welcoming from the pubco.

1434​ Punch director of customer services Nigel Turpin appears to address the protesters. "We would like to welcome any of our Punch customers here today. You are very welcome to come inside for a coffee. Our regional managers are here and ready to talk to you."

The licensees have been allowed in in twos. So far four have entered Punch HQ.

1445​ Punch is preparing to make a statement to the press assembled at the demo.

1457​ MA is privy to a meeting between licensees and Punch managing director Roger Whiteside and operations director Kevin Georgel. However, with emotions running high, the press are asked to leave.

1522​ Punch issues a statement to the press. It says that it has "robust" channels of communication and is currently spending £1.6m a month on helping out its licensees through rent concessions and special discounts. The leased system offers a cheaper way into running a pub, it says. (Punch: leased model does work​)

1525​ One licensee who met with Punch said he felt "encouraged" but would wait and see if there was any improvement in his situation.

1529​ Things have ended on a bit of sour note. Punch refused to accept the protesters open letter just as Enterprise had done earlier in the day. The letter is left outside on the floor for Punch but is not accepted by them. One licensee boots the letter under the door.

1530​ The day's campaigning is over and licensees get on the buses heading for home.

1535​ Wait a minute! The MA is called back for a chat with Punch MD Roger Whiteside. He says the day has been a success as Punch has got to talk to some of its customers. "We always try and listen," he says. "But the normal channel is through the Business Relationship Manager. It was important we had all eight of our regional managers here today. We have listened and there are some next steps to follow up on."

On refusing to accept the open letter, he said that they were not asked to accept, rather it was thrown at them.

"Let me make it clear," he says. "We are here for Punch licensees and not organisations like Justice For Licensees. But if they do come from that group, we will talk to them. Its in our mutual interest to make things work."

1545​ This time it is all over. Licensees are back on the bus and in fine mood. They feel the day has been a success. Over and out.

Related topics: Legislation, Other operators

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