Pubco critic accuses BBPA chairman Jonathan Neame of industry code breaches

By James Wallin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Jonathan neame, Lease, Beer, Leasehold estate

Dave Mountford hit out at BBPA chief Neame
Dave Mountford hit out at BBPA chief Neame
Anti-pubco campaigner Dave Mountford has accused the British Beer & Pub Association chairman Jonathan Neame of failing to abide by the Industry Framework Code.

Mountford was giving evidence on the first day of a committee examining the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which includes the Government’s proposals for a statutory code.

He criticised the turnover of tenants at Shepherd Neame - of which Jonathan Neame is chief executive - saying that since 2013, 98 of the company’s c300 tenanted pubs had been advertised as available for lease with some having “changed hand multiple hands”.

The former Punch lessee said: “Jonathan Neame is the chairman of the British, Beer & Pub Association and he is not operating in accordance with brewery tenancies. In terms of upkeep of buildings – he has been criticised by local councils because of the state of some of his pubs. If the chairman of the BBPA cannot operate his business in accordance with brewery tenancies then reform of the industry is well overdue.”

Mountford said he could provide "countless examples of how the voluntary code is being ignored or abused".

Crucial

Mountford insisted that the Government’s proposals would fail to achieve their stated aim of ensuring tied tenants were no worse off than those free-of-tie.

He said: “Every code of practice that has been put forward has been largely ignored. This code has yet to be written and before it is agreed it will have to be discussed by a range of people with diverse opinions. That will take a long time and and time is the crucial issue to struggling tenants.”

He added that basing the pubs code adjudicator on the equivalent in the grocery sector was “not suitable” because that model was based on relationships between two businesses.

He also said the large pubcos were not the only offenders, saying “there’s a wealth of evidence that the image of the cuddly family brewer is far from the truth”.

Andrew Griffiths, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group challenged Mountford’s support for a mandatory free of tie option, saying London Economics had estimated this would result in 1,700 pubs closing and 7,000 jobs lost.

Mountford replied that the data from LE was “deeply flawed”.

Investment

In response to Mountford's criticism, a Shepherd Neame spokesman said: "In the last year we have invested £3.7 million on improving and maintaining our existing tenanted pub estate - up 16% on the previous year.

"The estate was fully let at year end and we are seeing an increasing number of applicants for our pubs. Independently verified licensee satisfaction levels are strong and improving, with the average tenure for our licensees currently at 5.5 years.

"We take great pride in the quality of relationships with our licensees, the investment and business support we provide to help drive footfall and the offer we give to our customers."

Related topics: Legislation

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