An email sent by CAMRA’s Pub Campaigns Committee, seen by The Morning Advertiser, reads: “Since the pubs code came into force last year, it has been noticeable that most of the large pub companies have developed new operating agreements which are quite different from the traditional long-term tied tenancy. We are keen to find out what impact these operating models are having on the sector.”
The email continues: “We would be particularly interested to hear from you if: your operating model has changed and resulted in an increased or reduced range of real ale and cider for your customers; you run a tied pub and have had changes to your agreement made by your pub company; you think that changes in the sector since the pubs code came into force have affected the price or quality of real ale and cider or you have any other information you think it would be valuable to share with us.”
Paul Ainsworth, chair of the Pub Campaigns Committee at CAMRA explained that the emails were sent out to canvas opinion on new pub operating models and the impact they’re having on both sides of the bar.
He explained: "We are particularly interested in this move away from the traditional tenancy to half way between a managed and a tenanted operation. It's something new and we don't know enough about it - whether it's a good thing, a bad thing, a neutral thing and we felt the best people to ask were actual licensees themselves because they've had experience of it and how it's been for them.
“Have they found it to be a model that works for them as well as the pub company, or have they regretted moving to it? Have there been any problems, has it been a success?
“It's essentially a fact-finding exercise and then we feel we're in a better position to comment on anything that we feel needs to be highlighted from a customer perspective, which is what we're there for. We're there to represent the interests of consumers - so we need to find out more about what the impact of these changes is overall.
Ongoing dialogue with the PCA
Ainsworth added that the findings of the call for views will assist them in preparing for upcoming meetings with the pubs code adjudicator.
He explained: "We are in continuing dialogue with the pubs code adjudicator. We're in the process of arranging another meeting with Mr [Paul] Newby because we continue to have concerns about the slow rate of progress with adjudications. Finding out more about what's going on in the trade will help us with those discussions.
"We really just want to be clearer with what's happening out there. We want to make sure we've established the factual position first before we go shouting at the rooftops that something is bad or something is against customer interest because that might not prove to be the case."