OPINION: Pubcos scoring well with licensees but can do more

Progress made: Neil Morgan sees open dialogue between between pubcos and tenants leading to greater transparency
Progress made: Neil Morgan sees open dialogue between between pubcos and tenants leading to greater transparency

Related tags Christie & co Property Opinion Tenanted + leased Pubco + head office

I recently had the pleasure of attending this year’s Leased & Tenanted Spotlight in London, alongside senior executives from key industry bodies.

These included the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality, the ‘big six’ pub companies and the largest family brewers, who represent more than 8,500 leased and tenanted pubs.

This annual event serves as an essential platform to discuss key issues facing the UK’s leased and tenanted sector and the dynamics of the pubco-tenant relationship, as highlighted by insights captured in The Licensee Index​ report.

The survey calls on over 1,500 licensees operating 8,500 pubs with 15 different pub companies to rate their satisfaction with their current pubco across 68 different measures, including recruitment, training and information, ordering and delivery, product support, promotional support, landlord services, communication and the role of the BDM.

Satisfaction level is stable

The research revealed licensee satisfaction has remained stable over the past two years, with pubcos achieving an average rating of 7.6 out of 10 for 2023. This figure has been on an upwards trajectory since 2019, suggesting substantial progress has been made to improve the pubco-licensee relationship.

This is quite significant considering the disruption and challenges that the UK hospitality sector has grappled with in recent years from lockdown closures and periods of restricted trading to increasing cost pressures, staffing issues and inflation.

However, as with any evolving sector, improvements still need to be made.

Interestingly, a focal point of discussion during one of the event panels was the need for increased support and sharing of best practice and ideas for areas such as digital marketing, social media, developing menus, events and promotions.

Expectations have shifted

Customer behaviour and expectations have shifted in light of increased living costs, so pubs must ensure they’re providing a good range of offerings, value for money and a quality experience that gives people a reason to visit.

Equipping licensees with knowledge of their customers’ needs and advising on ways to both reduce running costs and increase sales will ensure their venues feel supported and continue to grow within the vibrant UK pub landscape.

The leased and tenancy business models present a fantastic opportunity for someone dreaming of running their own pub with little to no experience as they enable a new operator to get in to the sector with smaller start-up costs and training and support from a large pub company or brewer.

The ongoing efforts to create an open dialogue between large pub companies and their tied tenants ensure we will continue to see greater transparency and fairness in the industry.

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