Licensees Association will ‘stand on side of independent operators’

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Battle lines drawn: the association’s first call to action is a campaign against the retail price index (RPI)
Battle lines drawn: the association’s first call to action is a campaign against the retail price index (RPI)

Related tags: Pubs

A multi-site operator has launched a new trade association because he believes independent publicans need better representation in the industry.

Pleisure managing director Nick Griffin has been running pubs in Brighton and Eastbourne since 1992 and says a new voice is needed.

He told The Morning Advertiser​ his Licensees Association will be a support network for independent and small group pubs.

He said bodies including the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), UKHospitality (UKH), and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) did not represent publicans like himself.

Griffin said: “They might be trying to do a good job but I'm not sure they understand [independent operators] and, in many ways, will be compromised.

“The people that suffer the most at the end of this are the publicans, who are not being served particularly well by our industry.

“Big business has beaten them up. Government has beaten them up. And they haven't really had anybody that's going to stand on their side. I think it's about time that finished.”

Buying power

The association will be a campaigning body as well as offer help and assistance to publicans and bring publicans together in a buying group.

Griffin explained publicans could get better deals on sites if they rallied together.

He said: “Every single lessee I ever meet complains about the buying power of the big companies and, on their own, they don't have any buying power whatsoever.

“But if they combine through this association they will have massive buying power.”

The association’s first campaigning action was to write to a selection of industry bosses to express its opposition to the retail price index (RPI).

The index is often used to increase pub rents and not as accurate or fair as the consumer price index (CPI), the association said in a letter to leaders including Ei’s Simon Townsend and Greene King’s Nick Mackenzie.

Inflation inflated

Griffin said he hoped the pubco bosses would support a switch to ensure fairness within the sector.

He said: “If you’d taken a lease at £35,000 per annum rent, by the end of the 10th year of indexed reviews, you’d have paid over £20,000 more in rent than if if CPI had been used over the past 10 years, based on June’s Index.

“That’s inflation inflated. As an industry, we should take a lead and do the right thing and consign this index to the bin.”

The association has been set up as a non-profit business and will be Griffin’s full-time job after he hands over his sites to Ei.

The three Brighton Pleisure sites will transition to Ei Group’s Bermondsey Pubs and become managed houses.

It comes after a campaign for a lease renewal that saw thousands sign a petition in support of Griffin.

A spokesperson for Ei Group said: “Bermondsey Pubs is fully committed to ensuring the Great Eastern, an historic and much-loved pub, remains an integral part of Brighton’s community and they look forward to welcoming guests old and new.”

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