The innovation is part of the company’s new tenancy agreements, with plans for take-up to reach about 10% of the c340-strong tenanted estate by the end of the year, and perhaps 50% by the end of 2015.
Three pricing structures are available. The first is similar to the current approach, with “fair” rent and tied products not much more expensive than wholesale prices. This is expected to be suited to about half the estate.
The second will offer some discounts, while a third will provide deeper discounts on tied products. Director of retail operations David Harrison told M&C Report this was aimed at “mainstream”, single-income stream and “very cash-sensitive” pubs.
He explained: “[When] you go into any marketplace, you need to look at the consumers. What are they prepared to pay to make that pub successful? If they are prepared to pay £2.70 a pint then our view is that the licensee needs to purchase that product at an appropriate price to sell it at £2.70 and make a margin out of it, whereas two miles down the road, at that same pub in a different environment, it might get sold for £3.50 a pint.
“What we are going to do is start with the consumer and work backwards.”
Joint managing director William Robinson — who said the new pricing structures are part of “cultural change” at Robinsons — said lower drinks prices won’t necessarily mean higher rents for the tenants.
“We need licensees to reinvest in the businesses, but they need our support to do it. Our support in their case is about making sure they can afford to reinvest.”
In another major change, Robinsons will stop issuing one-year rolling agreements with rent reviews every four years.
Instead, three types will be available. Firstly, a five-year agreement, expected to account for 95% of those in operation, where rent will be RPI-linked but with no mid-term rent reviews. One and 10-year agreements will also be offered — the latter aimed at “more bespoke food operations”.
There will be no automatic match- up between agreement type and pricing structure.
Another key change is the addition of a handbook, which will detail the responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant.