Pub trade must unite to respond to attacks

By Michael Kheng

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Home office Supermarket

Kheng: trade must come together
Kheng: trade must come together
Why is it that our industry, one of the oldest and one of the nation's favourites, is always under attack, asks Michael Kheng.

Why is it that our industry, one of the oldest and one of the nation's favourites, is always under attack from the Home Office, police and Government?

Is it that, although we complain about the constant pressures of increased taxation and legislation, we do not actually stand together and stand up and shout?

Instead, we each have our own voice through the various associations we belong to who do the shouting for us. Is it not time that, for once, those in the industry — the licensees, the employees, the tenants, the landlords, the brewers — all stood together and shouted as one voice?

After attending Home Office consultations on the mandatory code last year I wonder why, despite more than 95% of the attendees at the Nottingham consultation — mainly made up of licensing and responsible authorities — stating they did not think there was a need for mandatory conditions, the Home Office introduced them anyway.

We do have to ask why the codes are mainly for the on-trade and not the off. Is it that supermarket giants give so much support to political parties?

Supermarkets and their irresponsible approach to pricing of alcohol are part of the problem. You only have to walk through the doors of a supermarket to be presented with a pallet of cheap booze. Is this responsible? Is selling 440ml Carlsberg Export for 2p a can after the VAT and tax has been taken out responsible? The Home Office obviously seems to think so.

Most supermarkets seem to be doing this and they are allowed to carry on. A handful of pubs however, apparently use a dentist chair for promotions so the Home Office ban them from every on-licence in England and Wales. Why?

I am sure most of our trade shares this view, yet the Government fails, or chooses not to, share the same view.

If the supermarkets are able to argue their case for selling alcohol as a loss leader then surely the on-trade can unite and stand up to the way we are being treated.

In the main, the majority of pubs that form the on-trade are well run, employ well-trained staff and are small family businesses.

Whether they be an owner, a tenant or a manager, most run their establishments to the best of their abilities and run them to make a profit and survive.

The constant pressures, both legislative and financially, put on them are seeing a growing number of well-run businesses closing. How many supermarkets do you hear of closing down?

Michael Kheng is director of the Kurnia Group

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