Monthly Archives: July 2011

Common Sense in the Licensed Industry, Barrel-Dregs (196)

Pub Business and Common Sense


I have long been trying to apply common business sense to the Licensed Industry, having written several books that relate to common sense in business rather than some cock-eyed system that has evolved with some very sharp and devious people to exploit the less fortunate.

If you have enough money and commercial clout you can get away with it for a very long time, until someone questions the wisdom of the system and you have the King’s New Clothes.

The licensed industry as with most property based businesses is rife with over valuation, the realisation has hit the RICS very hard very much to their professional embarrassment, but many of their surveyors are locked into a previously flawed system and are having serious problems readjusting to something that they have no first hand experience of, running a licensed business.

FMT (Fair Maintainable Trade), Comparables, Reasonably Efficient Operator and host of other hackneyed words, all are convenient let outs for not doing a deep analysis of the actual trade of a business in an area and it’s actual market share of that area, in addition where growth, if any, may actually come from and at what cost.

I have always bought run down freehouses and naively assumed that the world will want to beat a path to my door, not on your life, the world is very happy with most of their present arrangements, even more so in a recession.

The only way that you will get growth in a recession and I have survived a number, is by being better than anyone else if possible and cheaper on quality products than anyone else, and the customers don’t just come for that, they come to you to be entertained and if you can make them all feel special they will stay with you.

But at what cost if you achieve that, you haven’t created new business you have taken it from another business or businesses, so some poor hardworking licensee or restaurant owner is struggling to pay the bills.

This brings me to the point of this article, FMT, Fair Maintainable Trade, every surveyor and BDM wildly over estimates the business that any particular pub does, based on Comparables, using the cherry picked successful ones within a ten mile plus radius, not taking every pub in the immediate area, many are now closed or under management to get a true picture.

What I would like to see is an honest Family Brewer, and their are a number, as an exercise look at you beer sales for all your pubs tenanted, leased and managed for the last five years, note the growth or drop so that you can give an accurate prediction, check it against your previous annual predictions.

Then take the FMT for all your pubs tenanted, leased and managed, including the bonus predictions for beer sales for the managed pubs, the totals should be very similar, but they are unlikely to be, if they are less than five percent difference, this could be construed as reasonable in a recession, or does your FMT etc involve an extra fifty percent increase in brewing, which has never happened.

Look at any of your pubs that has enjoyed growth beyond a small percentage point and look at which pubs have lost that business, if none have, great, it means the growth has been achieved at another companies expense, but if one of your pubs or several have lost the busines, you have a problem.

If you increase the rent or the bonuses on the successful ones, what will you do about the less fortunate ones reduce the rent or bonus target, the assumption that business is infinite, it is not, it is finite and falling and will do so for some considerable time, can you afford to lose a good operator, we have far too many good people on the scrap heap, it has to stop and common sense has to prevail.

Being a top operator is fine, staying there is very difficult, raising rent (FMT) or bonus targets in a finite market destroys many good operators, to be replaced by novices, a very costly exercise.

If any brewer is prepared to run this exercise, I suggested beer, for a start to simplify it, we would be delighted to publish the results as a start to common sense.

Many pubs have lost their core business through smoking legislation, many of these people now buy in the supermarkets and drink at home, having a strong core business is vital to development, people make people, and empty pubs remain empty, if your business moves you have to stay ahead of the market and landlords need to recognise these points, but it is not always possible to compensate in a falling market.

I would like to see the Morning Advertiser raise this issue, always remember whatever business a licensed property is doing, that is it’s market share at that moment of time, not what it might do or what it has done.

I used the word Honest Family Brewer, not to infer that they are dishonest, but that if their findings are that the FMT etc calculations are above 5% of annual total sales, to admit over estimating and possibly setting targets at more than their market share will stand, we need stability and common sense to put the industry back on it’s feet, not the head in the sand, tomorrow will resolve the problem, too many good people are being put on the scrap heap.

We need thinking companies to put the industry back to a career for life, for those that seriously love the industry.


The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.




COP’s, is this how they really work or don’t work? Barrel-Dregs (195)

COP’s and some unanswered questions.

One of my more learned pals, called me this morning in a state of total frustration, tearing what little hair he has left off an already bald head.

He is a good soul and like many of us devotes many unpaid hours trying to help the unfortunate victims of unscrupulous landlords, he desperately needed a sympathetic ear about the mountain of problems that his latest batch were presenting.

He was berating the BII and their total inability to administer justice via their COP system, two major Pub Co’s whose names will not be mentioned, since they might contaminate the printing and upset the computer beyond repair.

His main problem would appear to be that any attempt to get any of these Pub Co’s before the BII for breaches of their COP’s was a near impossibility.

As soon as the BII spoke to one CEO he immediatelt denied that any breach had taken place, I sadly have had the same experience with one of their M.D’s. on several occasions.

It reminds me of the time when several of us as very small children were dragged in front of the Headmaster for committing some collective act of infamy at seven years of age, my mother was worried stiff and grabbed me as I came out of school assuming that I had received six of the best with Head’s most vicious split cane, frantically asking what the Headmaster had said to me, which I replied “Nothing, he wasn’t talking to me I was looking out of the window.” In addition to beat six of us would have caused an uproar even in those days.

It would appear that if the CEO by denying that any breach has taken place in writing is beyond the BII’s capability to do anything about it, unless you have witnesses and written evidence, one pleading destitute lessee does not count and is expendable.

I sympathised with my colleagues frustration and pointed out that since the COP’s were written by the individual Pub Co’s legal eagles, they know exactly what to say and write to negate any action by the BII, unless it is irrefutable, in which case a few soft words or heavy threats and the whole issue is dropped depending on which company it is.

But it raises one of my favourite topics that there is no effective representation for the self employed, we are all an expendable commodity, individually we do not have the clout to contest any major company in a court of law even if we are legally right, which is wrong in this day and age.

The BII were asked to Police the Industry, young Arthur, Head Honcho of the BII has backed away from that responsibility, my sources tell me that he is under pressure for more Pub Co participation on the Main Board and what will be the few remaining Regions, possibly instigated by the well entrenched Moriarty in the BII, who also appears to have been a key supporter of the less acceptable face of the Pub Co model followers.

This all adds up to a nasty mess and a very easy get out for the ungodly Pub Co’s, if this is in fact correct, the irony is that the decent companies do not need a COP, they have a good moral code of ethics and will never allow a breach of their COP, should one occur, to even see the light of day.

There was always an unspoken duty by the old family brewers to the communities where their pubs were and a duty to their tenants, this doesn’t exist with Pub Co’s, it’s obtaining nasty money at all costs, people and pubs count for nothing, the only possible defensive action is a toothless tiger who is terrified to take on it’s sponsors, it is easier to turn a member away than take on a corporate sponsor, I would like to be proved wrong.

Our learned Chief Scribe, Barfly is disgusted with the direction the BII have taken and their apparent failure to safeguard members interests over corporate sponsors influence, but then times change, new brooms come in and the things that were important to old members is now history.

It does highlight the need for one COP for the industry enforceable by legislation, that is totally fair to all, not both sides because sides are divisive, also subject to a thorough investigation of each complaint without the assistances of a hugely expensive legal team, putting it beyond the reach of the less well funded.


The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.





Phone Scam, Barrel-Dregs (194)

Phone Scam

This was forwarded to me – be warned.

I received a call from an alleged ‘representative’ of BT, informing me that he was disconnecting me because of an unpaid bill.

He demanded payment immediately of 31.00 or it would be  118.00 to re-connect at a later date.

The guy wasn’t even fazed when I told him I was with Virgin Media, allegedly VM have to pay BT a percentage for line rental!

I asked the guy’s name – he gave me the very ‘English’ John Peacock with a very ‘African’ accent – & phone number – 0800 0800 152.

Obviously the fellow realized I didn’t believe his story, so offered to demonstrate that he was from BT. I asked how & he told me to hang up & try phoning someone – he would dis-connect my phone to prevent this. AND HE DID!!

My phone was dead – no engaged tone, nothing – until he phoned me again.

Very pleased with himself, he asked if that was enough proof that he was with BT. I asked how the payment was to be made & he said credit card, there & then.

I said that I didn’t know how he’d done it, but I had absolutely no intention of paying him, I didn’t believe his name or that he worked for BT.

He hung up.

I dialed 1471 – number withheld

I phoned his fictitious 0800 number – not recognized.

So I phoned the police to let them know. I wasn’t the first! It’s only just started apparently, but it is escalating.

Their advice was to let as many people as possible know of this scam.

The fact that the phone does go off would probably convince some people it’s real, so please make as many friends & family aware of this.

How is it done?

This is good but not that clever. He gave the wrong number – it should have been 0800 800 152 which takes you through to BT Business.

The cutting off of the line is very simple, he stays on the line with the mute button on and you can’t dial out – but he can hear you trying. (This is because the person who initiates a call is
the one to terminate it). When you stop trying he cuts off and immediately calls back.

You could almost be convinced!

The sad thing is that it is so simple that it will certainly fool many.

By the way this is not about getting the cash as this would not get past merchant services – it is all about getting the credit card details which include the security number, so that it can be used
for far larger purchases.


The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.


Alliance Online Catering Equipment – suppliers of Pub and Bar Equipment to the Licensed Industry

The unpublicised face of Enterprise Inns, Barrel-Dregs (193)

Pub Co’s


This is an extract from Facebook, sent to us.

I am in Court to-day (Thursday 21.7.11) at Leeds, one of the locals works in the Court said there are 15 Enterprise Cases in Court to-day plus mine and others tomorrow, looks like they are clearing out West Yorkshire.

If this information is correct and we have no reason to believe it not to be, this is a terrible indictment of the Pub Co model, if you consider every Court in the UK, say once a month, with this number, that would amount to a staggering number of financial failures for one company alone.

This does in fact bear out the details sent to me by a mole in a Pub Co showing 5,800 failures or forced changeovers in one major Pub Co in two and a half years, before the recession.

I forwarded the details to the Select Committee saying that the details had been verified as correct, but they could not be used as evidence since they had not been obtained officially through the company, but they could ask questions, with some very amusingly horrific answers, fortunately for the Pub Co’s the BISC meetings are not under oath.


The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.



Virus Attack, be warned. Barrel-Dregs (192)

 Virus Attack


This is an email from a reliable colleague, please note.

Back in the land of the living having survived (just) a most horrendous virus atrtack on my entire computing system. How it happened last Thursday first thing was I had a spam advert for “Win a free holiday in Euro Disney”.Being the tidy sort of fellow I am, I clicked ‘unsubscribe’ which let in the virus known as Trojan Express. It wiped everything, including my latest anti virus fire wall, and even cross infected my Blackberry via my email, which it also disabled !


Anyhow the office computer doctor put everything back together yesterday, professing that he had never seen anything so downright nasty. You might want to put out a general warning to all and sundry as you seem to have such a vast contacts list and tell all about the access point via the unsubscribe button.

Note:- I have been very unsuccessful in unsubscribing on a number of occasions, ending up getting locked into the site that I didn’t want and having to do a tour, it’s an unnecessary pain and I am very wary of unsubscribing, I just delete and don’t touch the email.

If it comes in on a regular basis, then it may be worth unsubscribing, because something like the above will be stopped fairly quickly on the Internet, hopefully.


Freedom to Choose, Monthly Newsletter, Smoking issues Worldwide

Chairman’s Message

A damned fine day was had by all f2c members who travelled to London to the Save our Pubs and Clubs reception hosted by Greg Knight (C), Roger Godsiff (Lab) & John Hemming (LibDem). In all, sixteen MPs were invited by f2c members with apologies being received from Edward Garnier (Mkt Harborough),  Andrew Bridgen (Leicester North), Andrew Robathan (South Leicestershire) & Karl McCartney (Lincoln). Jon Ashworth (Leicester South) responded and met with me at the reception but unfortunately, with the exception of Joe Benton (Bootle, Liverpool) the others failed to respond at all. For the record, Joe Benton is an ex smoker and now declares the ban to be the 8th wonder of the world! Karl McCartney and Phil Wilson are being met locally by f2c members.

MPs failing to respond were:- Liz Kendall (Lab), David Tredinnick (C), Mark Garnier (C), Jim Cunningham (Lab), Geoffrey Robinson (Lab), Bob Ainsworth (Lab), Louise Ellman (Lab), Kieth Vaz (Lab), David Ruffley (C), Peter Bone (C), Edward Leigh (Con).

Our sincerest thanks go to Simon Clark of FOREST (SoPaC) for organising this event as more than 200 people travelled to support the campaign, including a dozen representatives from

freedom2choose  well done to all! 

Lincoln Protest

Saturday 2nd July saw a small but seriously-peeved band of protesters gather inside Lincoln city’s bus station to break the law.  Cigarettes were lit, literature handed out and, despite pre-protest doubts, the whole event roused interest and encouragement from all but one passer-by.

Thanks to Pat Nurse for organising the event, and to everyone who travelled some distance to attend.  Meeting others of like-mind, and the warmth with which we were met by ordinary members of the public, was tremendously uplifting in these otherwise ‘denormalising’ times.

(Photo copyright: Maureen Whisker)

Freedom2Choose is proud to announce that Pat is now a full f2c member with responsibility for media advice.

Well done Pat and welcome!

More Demands
June’s AGM of the British Medical Association (BMA) brings us what is quite possibly the daftest quote of the year, courtesy of Dr. Douglas Noble:

“It would be safer to have your exhaust pipe on the inside of your car than smoke cigarettes…”

This is the BMA’s reasoning behind banning smoking in cars, and serves to remind us why doctors should never be allowed near the levers of power. What a relief, then, to read that Motion 527 was ‘unlikely to be reached’:

Motion by WEST MIDLANDS REGIONAL COUNCIL: That this Meeting proclaims its intention to form a social enterprise to bid for the business of governing the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including its National Health Service.

This (presumably) tongue-in-cheek proposal failed to shame the BMA into scaling back their demands for more controls: besides banning smoking in cars, the BMA would like tighter licensing restrictions on alcohol, including a minumun unit price of 50p.


Banning smoking in cars was the subject of a Ten Minute Rule bill introduced by Stockton North Labour backbencher Alex Cunningham.  Although the bill was approved (by 78 to 66 votes), it is unlikely that time will be given to debate the proposal further.  Our thanks, as always on these occasions, to Philip Davies MP  for leading the opposition to the bill.


Sheila Duffy, of ASH Scotland, thinks she knows the pub industry better than the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.  Sheila is concerned that Scotland is losing its world-leadership status in tobacco control and is demanding ‘a new comprehensive and robust strategy’ to rectify the matter.
Stony Stratford

When Councillor Paul Bartlett announced his intention to impose a New York style outdoor ban on the small town of Stony Stratford, he probably thought he was speaking for the majority who are, after all, non-smokers. In fact, the proposal has been widely condemned as a step too far by smokers and non-smokers alike.

ASH spokeswoman, Amanda Sandford, praised the scheme saying…

‘An unintended consequence of the indoor smoking ban is that more smokers are on the streets dropping litter and this ban would prevent that.’

… as would welcoming smokers back into society, of course.

International News
Confusion surrounds the proposal of yet another discriminatory employment law.  The incongruously-named Mercy Medical Centre in Des Moines, Iowa has decided to hire only non-smokers, but may be in violation of State Law if it goes ahead with the policy.Elsewhere – good news!

1st June: Louisiana.  A democrat senator’s third attempt to ban smoking in bars is defeated by 22 – 15 votes.

17th June: Nevada. A bill is signed off that will allow bar owners to serve food to their smoking customers, and give family restaurant bosses the freedom to install enclosed smoking areas. While not a complete repeal, these are two small steps in the right direction and warmly welcomed by American freedom-lovers.

Just two weeks after Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon receives a World Health Organisation award for “unwavering leadership” in the field of anti-smoking, news is leaked of her past links with Big Tobacco.  Invitations to a fund-raising dinner were sent ‘in error’ to tobacco company executives in 2005, as part of Ms Roxon’s re-election campaign.BAT and Philip Morris are campaigning against Roxon’s plans for plain packaging, the very measure that the WHO describes as “a ‘bold and breakthrough’ approach that is inspiring political leaders in other countries.”

June 1st marked the beginning of a total ban on smoking in New Zealand’s prisons.  Prison guards are understandably twitchy, although Professor of Sociology and ex-lag Greg Newbold is confident that, despite ‘strung out inmates’ and other teething problems, there will be no serious protest.
Bill ‘philanthropist’ Gates dropped in on China last month, on a mission to spread the word of second-hand smoke.  The day after his appearance in a news conference, Reuters released a report on serious lead poisoning cases in eastern China, a country of ‘unfettered industrial toxins’.
Late news from Iceland – a proposal that would see smoking phased out of existence over the next ten years is to be discussed when the Althingi (Icelandic parliament) reconvenes in the autumn.
Under the scheme, cigarette prices will increase by 10% each year, doctors will enforce stop-smoking sessions and, “smokers who are given prescriptions [for cigarettes] will be diagnosed as addicts.”
The overall aim is to cut the current tally of ‘smoking-related’ deaths from 300 to 100 annually.
Imperial Speaks Out
At long last – signs of life from the tobacco companies. Undeterred by its recent defeat in appealing against the Scottish vending machine ban, Imperial Tobacco is still pursuing a case against the Scottish display ban, which is now on hold.Even more heartening is Imperial’s ‘plain speaking’ response to the Welsh Government’s plans for the future of tobacco control. Unlike recent government commissioned reports, Imperial is well aware of the plight of its otherwise-satisfied customers and is finally speaking up for those who have no intention of ‘quitting’.

Fame at Last!

Freedom2Choose members Dave Atherton and Pat Nurse were both active in media debate last month.Dave went head-to-head with arch-nanny Deborah Arnott, who can’t see what’s wrong with ‘denormalising smokers’, while Pat gave a spirited response to Mail journalist Anna-May Mangan’s advice that we all have a personal, moral duty to bully pregnant women out of smoking.

Our congratulations to both for their confident, informed performances and our hopes for many more to come!

Despite what many would consider to be ethically difficult trading times for Big Tobacco,British American Tobacco (BAT) continues to offer good returns to investors.BAT is also expanding its ambitions beyond traditional tobacco: its subsidiary companyKind Consumer is developing an e-cigarette and has signed a funding agreement with Tesco entrepreneur Sir Terry Leahy.  Competition comes from rival Phillip Moris who recently bought a patent for e-cigarette manufacture from, “the same scientific team that discovered the potential for commercial nicotine patches in the 1980s.”

Sir Terry’s marketing skills may prove more useful to Kind Consumer than his money if more states choose to follow the example of New Jersey in banning this novelty ‘nicotine delivery’ device.

New research from the American College of Cardiology finds that prolonged sitting is linked to increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and even early death and could be just as dangerous, if not more so, than smoking.”

Graphic new warnings are to appear on cigarette packets in the USA. Intended to shock smokers out of their habit, the most shocking revelation about the images is that they haveall been faked.

Latest stop smoking figures reveal that only 34% of self-proclaimed ‘quitters’ are subject to confirmation tests at the usual 4 week period. Of those 34%, carbon monoxide measurements confirm that one in three is fibbing.

Nevertheless, Lincolnshire Pheonix stop smoking services confidently announce that over half their would-be ‘quitters’ successfully kick the habit – a result somewhat higher than the national average.
Tayside and Lanarkshire, meanwhile, languish at the bottom of the Scottish NHS stop-smoking league, with or without CO validation.

WARNING!  Princess Cruises is banning smoking entirely from its fleet of cruise ships from January 15th 2012.

Another scary Champix story makes the news in the same month as a new study suggesting that the stop-smoking drug may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease.  Chris Snowdon examines the evidence and isn’t convinced.

Pet owners in Doncaster are being targeted in a new stop-smoking campaign.  According to Vets4Pets, our pets are as susceptible to  ‘second-hand’ smoke as our human companions.

And finally …our apologies for the very late delivery of July’s issue.  We hope to restore our only slightly late standards of service next month.
c/o John H Baker 22 Glastonbury House, Priestfields, Middlesbrough, Cleveland TS3 0LF
Tel/Fax 0845 643 9469

Freedom2choose (Scotland):
c/o The Dalmeny Bar, 297 Leith Walk,
Edinburgh EH6 8SA
Tel 0845 643 9552

A Blog dedicated to School Bullies, Barrel-Dregs (191)

Have you been bullied?

In one of my earlier blogs I reminisced about my school days. (Link to previous blog)

A recent invitation to take part in a cricket match between an ‘old boys’ team and the current school senior eleven gave me the opportunity to return to the educational establishment that had been home for the majority  of my formative years.

Arriving somewhat early, then Headmaster invited me to join him on his daily walkabout. It quickly became apparent that much had changed since my time there.

State of the art computer labs, superb sports facilities and a brand new library all bore testimony to the fact that the school had embraced modernity.

However, as we strolled past the sixth former’s common room, a familiar sound filled the corridor; one that brought the childhood memories flooding back.

I suspect it was my presence that prompted the headmaster; albeit somewhat reluctantly it must be said, to investigate. Entering the room, we were greeted by the sight of a young lad bent over, clutching his ankles. One of the senior boys stood over him, cane in hand.

“Ah, morning school bully” said the headmaster, seemingly unperturbed.

“Good morning sir.”

Is that young Barton-Hall you’ve got there?” the headmaster enquired.

“It is sir.”

“What’s he been up to this time?”

“Caught him with a pack of fags sir.”

“That’s not really a problem is it?”

“Well it is actually; you see he didn’t buy them from me. Little ****** bought them down town didn’t he?”


“How do you know that?” asked the headmaster.

“I don’t sell Marlboro.”

“Well I can see your dilemma. If the rest of the boys get wind of this they’ll all be buying out! You need to nip this in the bud school bully, before it gets out of hand.”

“My thoughts entirely sir. Rest assured, by the time I’ve finished with him he won’t contemplate buying out again!”

“Jolly good. These lads are in need of fatherly guidance, so carry on the good work. Errr…..that said, try andkeep the noise down, will you? My office is just up the corridor and I have some parents arriving to see me shortly.”

“Will do sir.”

And with that we left.

Returning to the headmaster’s office we found the parents already there, waiting patiently.  The headmaster poured tea and invited them outline their concerns.

“I’ll get straight to the point” said Mr. Barton-Hall. “On prize day last year, the deputy headmaster gave a speech in which he claimed that 98.4% of bullying had been ‘eradicated’. Headmaster, I beg to differ.  Bullying is rife in this school and I would suggest that you and your colleagues are turning a
blind eye to the activities of the bullies.

Perhaps you should leave the confines of your office from time to time and take a stroll behind the bike shed? That way you might see what’s really going on!”

“Bullying you say?” The look of incredulity on the headmasters face was worthy of an Oscar nomination.  “I must concur with my colleague on this” he continued, “we’ve come down hard on this rather unsavoury practice. It really is no longer an issue.”

Unfortunately for the headmaster, it was at this precise moment that school bully felt obliged to offer Barton-Hall junior some additional fatherly guidance.


“What in God’s name was that?”

“The theatre group” the
headmaster calmly replied. “They’re rehearsing for an upcoming performance.”

“Well anyway, our son informs us that he’s forced to buy his cigarettes from school bully. Do you have any idea how much he’s charging?”


“Fifteen pounds! Fifteen bloody pounds for a pack of fags!!!  My son can buy them in the shop for a fiver. These are extortionate prices headmaster; quite
frankly school bully is taking the p..s!”

“Not only that” interjected Mrs Barton-Hall, “he’s now insisting that the boys buy their crisps, chocolate and doughnuts from him as well; needless to say at an extortionate mark up. What’s next, school meals?”

“Well it’s funny you should say that” replied the headmaster “because only this morning school bully outlined plans to open a cafeteria. He has however given me cast iron assurances that attendance will be optional.”

More activity next door.

Whack….AHHHhhhhhhhh….. Whack….AHHHhhhhhhhh…..

“What sort of establishment are you running here headmaster?”

“I’m sure it’s nothing more than a couple of isolated incidents. Leave it with me; I’ll get to the bottom of this” he replied.

Once the parents had left school bully was summoned.

“Errrr…..there have been complaints” said the headmaster, somewhat tentatively.

“What do you mean complaints?” asked school bully in bemusement.  “Surely you can see the problems I’m facing here headmaster. We can’t trust these boys;
they need a firm hand. Anyway you’re still getting your cut so what are you complaining about?”

“Errr…….yes well…….errr……I don’t think Mr. Sayles is interested in hearing about our privatearrangement….”

Just as I was about to suggest otherwise, the headmaster continued.

“It’s all the negative publicity we’re starting to get. Parents have stopped sending their boys to our school; we need to do something to restore confidence.

We need to convince people we’ve changed; try and show them that the welfare of these lads is our top priority. Any idea as to how we can go about this school bully?”

“Absolutely! We need to find out who’s been complaining and give him a damned good hiding.”

“Err….well, that’s not quite what I had in mind” replied the headmaster.

“Well, I suppose I could lay off the cold showers for a while. Would that help? Or perhaps round up a few second formers and ‘encourage’ them to say they’re very happy with the school.”

“Errr… yes well thank you for your….errr…..input; you can go. Perhaps we can continue this discussion later.”

“Come on Bob”, said the headmaster, “let’s go and play some cricket”.

A few weeks later the local newspaper ran a feature on the school. Following numerous complaints by parents it seems a new code of practice was implemented; an attempt to address the problem of bullying.

I wonder if this has made any tangible difference or whether it amounts to little more than a public relations exercise. Call me a cynic, but experience tells me that there’s invariably a huge discrepancy between claims made in glossy brochures and the day to day realities of life in the field.

Of course the only way of really knowing would be to take a stroll behind the bike shed.

I wonder what I’d find.

Would young Barton-Hall still be clutching his ankles, or is it feasible that he and school bully might be enjoying a friendly game of conkers?

I don’t know. What do you think?

Robert Sayles (Old Boy)

Note:- Do I see a dig at Young Arthur as Headmaster of the Boys Institute of Inebriation?

It would also appear the Morning Advertiser declined such a fun Blog.


The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.




Admiral Taverns at their most subtle, Barrel-Dregs (190)


One of Pot Boys moles in Admiral Taverns, who really does have a social conscience, came up with the following.  This should be contrasted with the careing touchy feely Mr Paveley, CEO of Admiral, who came over as the squeaky clean Mr Nice in a recent article in The Morning Advertiser. The responsible face of the Pubco business model. Seeing as how he has had the conversion to end all conversions, being previously a dyed in the wool Punch board member. Nice. PB was asked to run the numbers. Well as good as done and they don’t work. Insanity rules Mr Paveley. To flesh out the background ! Norreys Barn is an estate pub in Wokingham. Its been through a few hands recently and Admiral are advertising the place as a fresh three year tenancy. You can get the full details on their website and the pub has references on a simple Google search. The letting details confirm full tie and a rent of £15K and a modest ingoing of £5Kwith F & F at £10K. My mole tells me that the total sales are approximately £135K-£140K if you look at it with rosey glasses. No food, entirely booze. After all its an estate pub with no passing traffic. Its the hub of that particular community and offers a valuable level of control for responsible drinking within the pub environment. So far so good.

The locals have got together and made a request to Wokingham District Copuncil under the latest freedom to buythingey to lease the pub themselves and a Committee will run and operate the pub. At that point, PB is not going to commentn on their proposal or how well the Committee will perform because PB has no idea who is going to run things. Anyway, Admiral are prepared to grant the starry eyed locals a free of tie lease but only on the basis (so my mole tells me) of replacing the wholesale income that they will lose, something like 120 barrels at perhaps £250 per barrel or roughly £30K. So the rent they want is now to be £45K. Thats a rent of 32% of top whack total sales. Insanity or what !!

Point of the story runs much deeper and into the waters of the hopes of a partial/full supply tie release following the BISC hearings (see Pot Boys passim). What Admiral have done is NOT to seek a market rent, but a replacement for their income lost. If this cunning plan is not recognised for what its worth, Admiral will have properly advertised the Norreys Barn to let, foundnobody for it, either tied or not and proven to the market that it can’t be let. Bingo,the place is not a viable business,planning permission goes in on the back of that assumption and the pub closes. Neat little line of logic is that and totally proves the vast difference between Market Rent and Replacement of income rent. Two totally different rentals and poles apart. The BISC committee are being urged to do the tie release, but only on the basis of an increase in rent at market levels.

PB only hopes that the good local worthies do not proceed swiftly to the scene of the accident and actually take on Norreys Barn at the insanity rent proposed.

Back to the comfort of a cool cellar.

Pot Boy.

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.




BISC- Final Session, Pub Co pasting, Barrel-Dregs (189)


BISC Final Session

Following on from PB 188 the best laid plans of mice and men fell apart and Pot Boy didn’t make it to the very last session of the BISC. Would you Adam and Eve it, PB had two core staff go sick !! Did manage to cop it on Parliament TV though,what a wonderful system.

So the Pubcos got a fair old pasting then! The first session, for anyone else that watched the show, and methinks is still available after the event, saw the Pubco panel squirm and slide into a hopeless defence of their business model. This was real job preservation stuff, pure and simple. Then we had the much discredited Bridgit Symonds (BBPA) trying to stick up for “her colleagues” and defending the indefensible. That lady is seriously well out of her depth. A shabby show that seems well sussed out by the panel, not least the attack dog of MP Brian Binley as he is an ex Courage (Reading ?) District Manager. Been there, worn the T shirt, knows the pub business.Second act was much more to PB’s liking,especially Kate Nicholls (ALMR) who came over as cool as a cucumber, factual, concise and very persuasive (fragrant even ?). What a contrast to hesitant, ill briefed and fumbling Brigit Symonds. Mike Benner (CAMRA) finally came out fighting and slammed both the BII and the Pubcos Codes of Practice. Simon Clarke and Karl Harrison (IPC and Fair Pint) did the final stake through the heart job and the panel were, as far as the telly could show, were all nodding their heads in agreement. Then came the ultimate politicians solution from Chairman Adrian Bailey. He’s given the Pubcos till the end of the month to reply to any of the criticisms that were made in Act Two !
Pause there just a moment. Rock and a hard place time. If the Pubcos do get daft enough to try to head off any of the very factual criticsm laid squarely at their door, they will dig themselves even deeper, almost patting the soil in onto their heads as they go subterranean. Facts do not lie. But, if they don’t say anything, then they have condoned all of the justified criticism. That Adrian Bailey, hidden behind an almost professorial image, is not that daft after all. Its now that the Pubcos find out that adrenelin is after all, brown and runny.
Maybe the Committee will realise that the Pubcos have been sticking a finger up to Parliament since the first hearings in 2004. Yes, a whole seven years ago. In that time PB hates to contemplate thousands of pub closures and the ripping apart of the pub trade by a bunch of asset stripping, bank bond serving middle men. That’s all they really are. They bring nothing to the table of any note. They don’t even brew the stuff, and as for the lowest of the low, the rent setting BRMs, they bring a general big fat zilch to the problem. So we wait and see. To PBs mind, any form of continuing voluntary code is dead in the water. The BII is in no fit state (being already bought off) to police the industry. Little ole Arthur’s performance, ably supported by the Oval Man, the other day was lamentable, bordering on the pitiful, poor lamb.
Can but wait and see !!
Pot Boy.

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.



Rob May ducks out of facing BISC, Barrel-Dregs (188)


Pot Boy took the trouble to toddle over to Westminster to attend the BISC hearing last week. All good stuff with Phil Dixon and Neil Robertson (BII) doing their stuff to a greater or lesser degree in the first session. Garry Mallen and David Rusholme (RICS) were in the second session. Well dear readers, and referring back to Barrel dregs 184, guess who copped out of the whole affair for reasons totally unexplained, the good ol’ Prince of Pubco Darkness,Rob May. He never turned up to the second session !!

The Chairman was suitably scathing and stated the an appropriate inference would be drawn from the “no show”. Problem is that this cowardly cop out leaves in thin air a number of key questions that should have been clearly answered by the very gaffer that once sat as Chairman of the pubs regulatiions committee in the inner web of the RICS. Same bloke who has supposedly passed on all of the new RICS regs to his minions and who should be overseeing full compliance. Fat chance, when the very man, so Pot Boy is constantly told, is twisting the same regulations like a piece of grubby twine to get the best he can for good ‘ol Uncle Ted.

Now look at it this way, the questions would have been searching and personal. So much so, either the RICS would have come down like a ton of bricks or he could have lost his job.Talk about rock and a hard place. No flipping wonder he copped a sickky!! COWARD !! So we will always be none the wiser as to why Enterprise deliberately flout the BBPA and the RICS. Why Enterprise account for about half of all the complaints to the BII about abuses of the Enterprise Code of Practice. (All swept under the carpet and nothing done !). Why Enterprise rent assessment calculations ignore as far as they can,the understanding of what really is the Reasonably Efficient Operator. On that point PB is told that if the assumed level of trade is higher than sales being achieved, then Enterprise, or any other Pubco for that matter, have to prove WHY the guy in the pub is not a Reasonably Efficient Operator. Well, they completely ignore all of that and tell you “you are just not competent “. Nice!

Yes Rob May has weasled out of all of that and kept his job and not had his knuckles rapped by the RICS. Very devious and slippery. But then again he has got form. When he was Chairman of the RICS Trade Related Valuation Group, he deliberately hid the fact that at the same time he was National Rent Controller of Enterprise and he and the RICS styled him as “Pub Expert”. The blatant conflict of interest was allowed and he got away with it. Scott free, just like ignoring the Parliamentary summons to turn up last week. All very dodgy and not too professional. No wonder that Uncle Ted won’t make him a Board Member. He’s just too slippery. Its the way he is programmed and PB bets that those above him, whilst grateful for his unstinting loyalty to the good ship Enterprise, know him for what he is. Not that difficult to figure.

PB will be first in line this week to attend the last sessions of the BISC. Like last week PB will have his pencil well sharpened for the “best show in town “.

Pip Pip !

Pot Boy.

Note:-Rob May was one of the most influential members of the RICS in implementing the rental system for the Pub Co Model, which the RICS have now pretty well rectified, his failure to account for his influence and actions raises many questions, which many people would dearly like to know, whether he was pulling the strings or his masters were, either way his credibility is seriously in question without some very good reasons for his non attendence.

There are no excuses that will satisfy the majority of the industry.


The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.