Speaking with Danny Pike on BBC Sussex on Thursday 4 January, Cuthbertson also outlined what Try January is all about and why drinkers should take part in that rather than Dry January.
He said: “Try January. It’s a campaign across the entire drinks industry. Brewers are going to play their part, but it is also distillers and winemakers. It’s a shop window for pubs to showcase what they are doing at a time when people desert them.”
Pike responded to Cuthbertson and asked him if he was “taking the Mick”. He added: “Here’s one month where people are being encouraged to give up the booze and you’re flying in the face of that.
“Why have you picked on that? Why are you challenging Dry January, which has become quite established over the past few years, hasn’t it?”
Cuthbertson said one month was not enough and that consumers should consider every day responsible drinking.
He added: “We are saying let’s just be sensible about this and have a balanced view. Pubs become the whipping boys a bit and we are trying to fight back on that basis.
“Pubs raise £100m a year for charity and that gets overlooked by some people and [pubs] unfairly take a bit of a hammering.
“So no, we are not taking the Mick, we are just saying [we are] using January as an opportunity to showcase what we do.”
The operator went on to emphasise how hard pubs are hit over the first month of the year and how important it is that drinkers continue to use them.
He said: “January is hard enough for people. We are all skint. What we don’t want to say to people don’t go in the pub and support it because there’s a real danger of them losing it.”
12 monthly business
Pike questioned Cuthbertson on why a busy December couldn’t cover a quieter January.
“If you have a really good December with everybody out on their Christmas parties…then you have not such a great January for pubs. In the end, do those two months balance each other out?”
Cuthbertson responded: “You still have to keep your staff on. You can’t just let everyone go, you need to maintain a 12-monthly business so, while December is typically good for pubs, I agree, it also comes with its amateur drinkers out.
“You have a lot of issues that come out in December that make it quite tough. But that is the responsible drinking bit. You have got the licensee out there who looks after people [who are] drinking… If they have had too much then [pubs] cannot serve them.
“No one is stopping anyone at home going back for that second bottle of wine, or third. It’s the villainisation of pubs that we are really trying to kick back about, but also showcase some of the great products we have in Sussex.”