Nigel Wild, who runs the Rose and Crown in St Albans, said he feared he could ‘lose everything’ and be left financially out of pocket after receiving a letter from the pub company outlining its intentions to terminate his three year rolling lease and replace him with a manager.
Wild was particularly concerned after investing heavily in the pub, including redecorating throughout and installing a new commercial kitchen and back bar.
However, at a meeting held yesterday Punch said it had a mistake putting the Rose and Crown on the list of pubs earmarked to be managed.
Wild told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser: “They were very apologetic and said they retracted everything and we’ve gone back to the original plan of renegotiating a new lease (with the view of eventually going free-of-tie) in January.
“It’s a huge relief-we’ve had this weight on our shoulders for months worrying about what was going to happen. I’m just glad it’s all sorted now.”
A petition protesting the decision received over 1,000 signatures online.
A Punch spokesperson said: “We recognise that a mistake was made with initial communications between Punch and our publicans of the Rose and Crown and we have apologised for any undue concern this has caused. Following our meeting we are pleased to be moving forwards in rebuilding a good working relationship. Obviously this situation is not MRO related as the renewal date is before the MRO option would become available.”
Industry leaders have voiced their fears about a potential rise in the number of managed houses, arguing that pub companies will seek to take back more pubs as a result of the market-rent only option.
Punch recently outlined its plans to invest in up to 500 pubs per year, costing a total of £250m-£300m, as well as a deal with fish-and-chip chain Harry Ramsdens, which will see both companies invest jointly in selected sites across Punch’s estate.
It is also planning to utilise ‘under-used’ parts of pubs to build convenience stores, function rooms and accommodation in upstairs rooms.