Pub Co, Licensees Horror Stories 1 (Barrel Dregs)
A sorry story
I just hope that if any Pub Co Boss or Employee reads these terrible stories, they feel some degree of remorse. I just wish that they were not true, but they are and they won’t stop coming in.
I am currently struggling with a Pub Co. The latest letters from them threaten to take back our three pubs we face mounting costs and accusations of buying out. My situation is being re-played the land over, I am paying £100 a week rent and they want £1000. I refuse on the basis that the business is non-viable, no discounts (aside from one old lease at £40 a brewer’s barrel). I am paying this rental amount as I cannot afford their full rent. What I want is to pay a fair rent and to be given discounts as a part of our Partnership agreement.
We have asked for help over the last 18 months. We are still awaiting capex and safety works to be done at two of the premises, the original works are now over two years old and have lease works which are even older. We received a BRI (Business Recovery Incentive) at one pub. This was changed into a deed of variation, based on the fact that the rent had been set to high since the refit. We asked for the rent to be back dated to day-one and were told that this could not be done as they had overspent on the capex (although the rent was set at the end of these works).
Any BRI deals offered did have tie-ins contrary to the Pub Co’s statement to the BEC, namely WSM (wines, spirits and minerals) and or f&f (fixtures and fittings.) They allowed a short term discount of £100 a BB (Brewer’s Barrel) to carry on which they then called in. Due to an oversight on their part we were hit with a bill of £12k which we cannot afford.
We have asked for full breakdowns on how the rent is assessed so that we can challenge it. This information has not been made available although we have asked for it repeatedly over the last year or more.
I do have a rental breakdown (given over to confuse us rather than help, but which has proved very helpful.) This was provided by my Regional Manager, for another lease, which we challenged only to have their chief surveyor turn up and give a new, completely different, assessment but still arrive at the same rental figure! We challenged his figures and were not allowed to speak to him again. Then the Director came down to tell us to pay or go to arbitration. After we displayed some of the errors carried out by their surveyor the Director left with the promise to look into it. He came back with a lower rental figure, which was still way off the mark, and refused to show us any calculations. We were told arbitration was the only route. He completely missed out the fact that an external valuer should have been called in, as per their Codes of Practice.
Their area manager approached us before Christmas to say that he could offer us temporary discounts at £50 per BB at all sites and he would put the rents to zero so long as we agreed to be out by the 2nd week in January (he tried to tie us in for WSM as well but we referred him to the Pub Co’s comments at the BEC and he withdrew this part). We said we would be happy to take up his offer on the discounts, as we had been asking for this level of help for a year, but not on the basis of surrender as we wanted to discuss our situation with their CEO. The deals were put in place and then revoked at the end of a short period, with us having to pay back the discounts before orders would be accepted. Rents for January (previously removed) were added back onto our debt. They are not willing to freeze rents during negotiations even though they have already proved they can.
We then took our complaints to the CEO, he said if you pay your bills then I will talk to you. He is fully informed of the practices used by his company and directly liable as he cannot deny being told. We could not pay these debts, we gave an explanation as to why this was so and what we were doing to further the business. We have now received mail saying that he will not talk to us any further and the case(s) will be handled by their solicitors.
We have been on cash with order for over a year now and yet weekly our beer deliveries are being delayed due to problems within credit control and no fault of our own. This kind of petty harassment is hugely damaging to a business.
There are so many elements to this case that I could write forever. I have been given no choice but to publish this information to try and help others. I am seeking legal advice on the best way forward. Needless to say the evidence has been submitted to the Inquiry. The information on your site is accurate, and I thank you for posting it, but I don’t know the best way to get the PubCo’s to implement change.
I talked to both Fairpint and David Morgan who have offered advice. I will carry on the fight but I wanted you to know that having sites like yours allows people to read about the truth.