Julian Grocock: Sometimes you just have to compromise

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Related tags: Great british beer, British beer festival, Great british beer festival, Beer

I was coming back after the Great British Beer Festival and four nights in a windowless cell at Stelios's Easy Hotel in Earls Court. It was indeed...

I was coming back after the Great British Beer Festival and four nights in a windowless cell at Stelios's Easy Hotel in Earls Court.

It was indeed "a womb with no view", but brilliant value at £25 a night. And what more did I need? Sometimes you just have to compromise.

Another upcoming trip could be about compromise too. It's another get-together in the round-robin of discussions about the Business and Enterprise Committee report that will hopefully lead to some meaningful mediation and a constructive outcome for our stressed-out pub industry.

Nobody with a place at the table will get everything they want from this process - except of course those charging fees.

SIBA's place in all this might be small but it is certainly not insignificant. If you are a publican who would like to stock our local beers but can't because of your tie you will be aware of the importance we attach to the development of a market that is far less foreclosed to our products.

That doesn't mean we've set in stone an opposition to the tie in all its forms. How could we, when I am determined to defend the right of our brewers to put their own beers on the bars of their own pubs?

But there is room for more freedom and free-of-tie leases should surely be an option, at least for the pubs of owners who aren't themselves brewers.

Thanks to the companies that actively participate in our Direct Delivery Scheme (DDS) we've managed to work within existing market conditions to gain access that we couldn't previously enjoy.

DDS works exceptionally well and continues to expand but we are in no doubt that the wider industry might now in addition require more fundamental and far-reaching solutions.

Every time I sit down to discuss these issues - with all shades of opinion in the debate - I am struck by how rational and reasonable and just plain nice everyone appears to be - not a two-headed monster in sight!

The very foundation and raison d'être of our business is about sociable interaction, which we can surely now utilise to achieve some serious resolution of the problems that persist and can no longer be ignored.

In spite of my throwaway comment above in praise of government intervention, be assured that is not a recipe I recommend for this industry. The Beer Orders taught us to beware of the unforeseen consequences of legislation, and ill-thought-out quick fixes devised by people who think in black and white will not deliver the long-term stability we so desperately need.

Evolution, not revolution, is the key - and that means compromise.

Julian Grocock is chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA)

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