Fair Pint campaigner: 'IFBB have nothing to fear from pubs code if they practice what they preach'

By Simon Clarke

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Family brewers, Renting, Brewers

Simon Clarke disagrees with the IFBB stance on the pubs code
Simon Clarke disagrees with the IFBB stance on the pubs code
The Independent Family Brewers of Britain (IFBB) this week described the Government's pubs code proposals as "an insult to the way we do business". Fair Pint campaigner, Simon Clarke, says they have nothing to worry about if they are treating tenants fairly.

"Most organisations participating in the Governments public consultation will be looking to encourage changes of one sort or another but the so-called small family brewers have declared their indignation that they are being included in the Government proposal to treat tenants fairly at all.

Most, who knew no better, accepted the family brewers' submissions at select committees that they were already treating their tenants fairly and reasonably assumed that, other than the market rent only option, the proposals were probably already established voluntary code requirements.

So what's the big deal? Using surveyors to assess rents? Surely the brewers rents to their tenants are already assessed by chartered surveyors, if not who is doing this? Having a compliance officer? It begs the question of who has been undertaking this role in the last four years under self regulation. And, surely an annual compliance report is only a burden if there have been breaches of compliance. Assuming the brewers are as benevolent as they portray there should be no compliance breaches and the annual report will be a single sentence - no compliance breaches this year. It is barely believable that the brewers keep no records of discussions between tenants and business development managers.

Vociferous

Dare I say it, even most pubcos already undertake most of the measures proposed. If the brewers vociferous resentment is indicative of the fact that these measures are not already adopted good business practices then that in itself is quite an admission.

They are right when they say there are differences between leases and tenancies. Brewery tenants can be evicted perfectly legally at the end of a short term with no compensation. Also, whilst there are literally thousands of beers available in the free of tie market a brewery tenant typically only has a handful of beers they can offer for sale, sometimes pretty dull choices at that. This has to be a significant disadvantage in a market where demand for new and exciting craft beers is flourishing.

There are plenty of cases of poor behaviour by brewers that never reached the headlines and several legal cases currently running. The code's core objective was to deliver fairness and ensure a tied tenant was no worse off than if they were free-of-tie - a utopia currently enjoyed by all brewery tenants, "allegedly". Unless the brewers have been economical with the truth in their previous statements, one has to conclude they should have no problem in with a code requiring them to practice what they preach.

As even Brandon Lewis, the former pubs minister, said: 'There is no good argument as to why a tenant who is dealing with a company that own five pubs should not expect the same level of fairness as a tenant of a company  with 5,000 pubs.'"

Related topics: Legislation

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People understand ££- not legal jargon!

Posted by Penelope Bloodworth,

The legal argument is of course important and we need lawyers and people who understand to keep at it, however for most of us, myself included, a lot of this detail is over our heads. A great deal of so-called apathy and people continuing to sign new leases is that they still do not understand the implications of the beer tie at its worst- and I'm not being patronising or calling anyone new to the business stupid here. A good agreement with the tenant getting a discount or rent reduction to compensate for the beer uplift is reasonable and fair- I don't know much about smaller breweries and their leases but I imagine that to be the case. There is nothing wrong with the beer tie in principle. Current leases for pubco's show a discount on the list price granted, what they don't show is how much their buying power reduces the price they pay. Fairly obvious to anyone with any idea of trade? Of course it is, however a pubco that is charging a tenant £90 for a cask of beer that they pay £50 for, is neither fair or reasonable to either the tenant or the brewer! It is certainly not in the tenants best interest. That is the current situation- small brewers are paid low amounts for their beer and these discounts are not passed on, they are cynically ignored-of course that impacts on profitability! The only model we have that does pass on those savings is JDW- don't see many of them closing down! Stop being greedy pubco's, maybe we should try and get a few brewers to disclose the discounts to the pubco's- they risk losing their business though so probably it will all stay under the carpet- anyone brave enough??

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Untruthfull

Posted by Robert Feal-Martinez,

As always Mr Taylor in every regard. Not the least being your last comment sentence, there as yet is no SC, and given the next Commons session for it is October and then there are two other stages before a repeat performance in The Lords.

Then it goes back to the Commons etc. As with all General Elections the extended campaign period starts in January, which will mean little meaningful will happen and priority will be given to those Bills carried over from the last session (6 I think).

I will let the PMA decide whether you personal attack breaches it's guidelines.

As for my comments about lessees/tenants I guess you didn't read Simon's article or subsequent comments. He seems to echoing what I said.

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The legacy of a badly bruised ego

Posted by david,

Mr Feal-Martinez persistently underestimates the intelligence of tied tenants. Clearly it did matter to them who they put their trust in to conduct an effective campaign for reform. That is why he was so comprehensively rebuffed. His and others' behaviour over the smoking ban consisted of endless squabbling for power, dirty tricks, huffs, and ego-strutting which was reason enough for publicans to steer well clear.

In respect of the key issue of the tie, tenants showed considerable foresight in not putting their trust in him. His subsequent bitter betrayal of them and their cause is ample evidence of that. If his subsequent stance had been one of constructive criticism then he might have an ounce of credibility. All we have seen is an endless succession of sniping, attacks on campaigners and even their businesses, and doing everything he can think of to undermine or derail the campaigners’ efforts. It’s been a pitiful display of an ego rejected.

The Government’s proposals as they stand do not deliver everything tied tenants want, but to get this far has been a massive achievement. It is still work in progress and the momentum continues. F-M predicted there would be no Statutory Code in this Parliament. Wrong, once again.

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