IFBB demands changes to 'insulting' pubs code proposals

By James Wallin contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: St austell brewery, Family brewers, Lease, Leasehold estate, Renting, Ifbb

IFBB members say they should not be affected by pubco reform legislation
IFBB members say they should not be affected by pubco reform legislation
The Independent Family Brewers of Britain (IFBB) has branded the proposed pubs code "fundamentally unacceptable” and demanded the Government makes changes.

In the week that MPs lined up to condemn the “grave flaws” in the bill, the IFBB’s chairman said the Government’s proposals were “an insult to the way we do business" and stressed "we won’t put up with it”.

James Staughton, who is also the managing director of St Austell Brewery, said the proposed legislation contained a number of “red lines” for family brewers.

He said: “We were never meant to be a part of this. We have never been criticised by any reports so we should not be included.

“Our fall-back position is to lobby to move a number of the elements that concern us into the enhanced code. That is the minimum for us. It’s inconceivable they should apply to us because they were never designed for us.”

Paul Wells, chaiman of Charles Wells, and a former chairman of the IFBB, said members were astonished to find themselves affected by the bill.

Assurances

He said: “In almost every select committee up to this point, we were assured that people understood it wasn’t the family brewers that were the problem. And then we were all amazed to find that suddenly a bill is published in which there is no distinction between the pubcos and the smaller breweries.”

Stephen Gould, MD of Everards, has headed up the IFBB’s response to the proposed code. He said what the Government had put forward “smacks of an 11th-hour rush to present something before the end of the Parliamentary session”.

He stressed the “critical distinction” between leases and tenancies had been “put in the ‘too difficult’ pile”.

“We thought it was accepted that the approach to responsibility for repair, recruitment and retention and ability for a licensee to give notice — usually about six months — meant the tenancy was something fundamentally different,” he said.

He added: “This is a fundamental reintroduction of red tape into small business, which is illogical.”

Unacceptable

Staughton highlighted various elements that were unacceptable to IFBB members, including: the need to recruit a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) valuer to sign off rents; “burdensome” demands on how training should be carried out; the need to have a compliance officer and compile annual compliance reports (for companies with more than 100 tied pubs); and the need to record all discussions with business development managers.

He added: “As one of our members told us — we have always borne the landlord’s risk that if a tenant fails we may not be able to recover the cost of acquiring and investing in the property.

“We accept we still have to repair the building and assume second liability for business rates. However, these proposals now add two new risks — the tenant’s risk and the supplier’s risk.

“This is an example of the law of unintended consequences, which is littered through these proposals and can have a significant impact on business. Also it is bordering on unlawful and impossible to place in law.”

Related topics: Legislation

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