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Social media uproar over 'pubco protection'

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Social response: licensees have commented on The Morning Advertiser’s Facebook page about some pubcos not cancelling rent
Social response: licensees have commented on The Morning Advertiser’s Facebook page about some pubcos not cancelling rent

Related tags: Coronavirus

Angry commentators have let rip on social media in response to the British Beer & Pub Association boss Emma McClarkin speaking on behalf of pubco bosses, which said “cancelling pub rents” was not the solution to the ongoing crisis.

McClarkin’s comments – speaking on behalf of pubco bosses – sparked a multitude of opinions from operators, including further calls for pub companies that have not cancelled rent to do so.

Kyle Michael said: “Pub companies need to remember our rents are based on turnover. No turnover, no rent.”

Dave Kes added: “Be in bigger disarray when they get mountains of keys thrown back at them.”

Colin Coombs outlined his confusion as why there was defence for the pub companies and how his business is worth more than the grants.

He said: “I’m totally baffled why people are sticking up for the pubcos. It doesn’t get any simpler than the fact we were ordered to close, not given the choice, ordered.

“My business is worth much, much more than a £10k grant. Rent is calculated on trade. #nopubnorent”

The Merry Monk in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, said: “This is self-protection by pubcos (greed comes to mind). Do the right thing and cancel the rent before tenants go bust.”

James Watson added: “If there’s no money coming in, the publicans cannot pay rent. This is so obvious that even the pubcos should be able to grasp it #nopubnorent.”

Sector disarray

Grant McNeil questioned the impact of ongoing pub closures on the industry and how this would affect him.

He said: “Would thousands of empty pubs not leave sector in disarray? £25k split over two sites, enough to pay rent for about two months then what? #nopubnorent.”

Mark Gilliver laid out how the pubs have been impacted in the area he lives, including his own business.

He added: “Three pubs in my village, one licensee is leaving in a couple of weeks with no new tenant coming in, the Admiral Taverns pub not paying rent, well done Admiral, that leaves myself still with rent to pay, although deferred.

“Out of the three, no guesses for which one will thrive when we are all allowed to reopen. I myself have had to get a temporary job to help cover costs #nopubnorent.”

Lindsey Armstrong said: “Not cancelling them will leave the pubs themselves in severe financial difficulties.”

However, some operators took a different view and called for more help from the Government, especially when it comes to financial support.

Alex Cook said: “It’s a tricky one, can’t expect pubcos to take a hit. There needs to be more help, both my sites are over £51k rates so not entitled to grants. Business interruption loans are proving difficult to get hold of.”

Valuable pubs

Rob Forster replied: “This is what the BBPA should be campaigning for more than anything else.

“Those pubs with rates above £51k have the highest rents and no means to pay it. No income or grants.

“The most valuable pubs may go pop. Then again, most of the pubcos would probably like the outcome, as they can place management in them now the incumbent landlord has made the investment and done the legwork on their behalf.”

Simon Olley of the Mackland Arms in Rainham, Kent, said: “All this is very true. Unfortunately, many licensees will cease to trade if rent is merely deferred.

“For many pubs, the pubcos and the Government take too bigger slice of the cake in the first place.

“Add the major discounting pubcos. Many licensees will just give if rent is just deferred. I can see both sides of the argument here.

“Unfortunately, pubcos may just have to bite the bullet, otherwise half their estates may not reopen then where will we all be at?”

He added: “Further to my previous comment, with pubcos furloughing all their employees, hence having no wage bill (fixed cost), if they collected full rent, would this not be seen as profiteering?”

Andrew Wilson said: “I know pubs are not a licence to print money but those with rateable values under £51k will get a £10k or £25k grant, as well as grants for furloughing staff.

“When these arrive, I think most ought to be able to survive a few months and continue to pay their landlord. Those with large sites are, however, in a difficult position altogether.”

Related topics: Legislation

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