Pub Co, Licensees Horror Stories, 3 (Barrel Dregs)
Another salutary Tale
Thanks for your message. Although myself and my girlfriend have lost our pub, our home and our business (along with a small fortune) I feel it could have been a lot worse, and it is for a lot of people out there.
I am 24 and my girlfriend is 23. We got into the pub trade 2 years ago after completing uni. Although young, we managed to get the locals on our side and they have been brilliant all through this. Even though they have lost their local and the meeting place for the village they have remained supportive as they see what pressures we were under from the brewery Pub Co.
In the end both myself and Liz had another full time job and we were working about 70 hours each week. After 6 months we got used to working all those hours, and I started to feel lazy when I had an ‘easy’ week and only did 60. From September until December the pub started to fare so badly we had to put our wages from our other job into the pub to keep it going.
When we asked our Pub Co for help they gave us their ‘business recovery plan’. This consisted of a £40 discount on a 22g barrel. The only problem is they insisted on extending our partial tie to a full tie during this period. So they gave with one hand and took with another. Before this came into effect we went out and stocked up on everything we could, as we knew they would sting us on spirits, wines and minerals. The plan was supposed to last 12 weeks. They stopped it after 5 without telling us, it was only when I checked the invoices that I found out that it had stopped. They claimed that it was taken off us because we didnt buy something from every category each week. They knew we would never do this, and we couldnt just buy things for the sake of it.
The sad thing is that it was working, with this discount our GP increased to a level which plugged the gap.
In early December I had a meeting with my area manager and when I said we will need help or we will go under, she said we had better arrange to give the keys back.
So we planned to hand back the keys on the 5th January, after having a good send off. On New Years eve, shortly after my £1600 beer order had gone out of my bank by direct debit I cancelled the direct debit, I didn’t want anything else going (rent for the next month). Sadly the bank returned my money. Within 3 hours they had sent a bailiff round. They had not tried to contact me in any way. I paid him the beer money (minus his costs, as I thought it unreasonable that enterprise did this without even asking me for the money). 4 days later, I received a letter saying that I had an unpaid bill and would I kindly put it into their bank. So they sent the debt collector out before even formally notifying me.
After this we both got tired of fighting. The keys went back, I am still waiting for the final bill. Even though I paid all the rent and all the beer we owed them (we can out even in that respect), I still fear they wll come after us. The delap report stated we needed £50,000 worth of work doing (in under 2 years). They in all likelyhood will keep our £3500 deposit and our £5,500 f+f. They claim to break the contract early they would have 3 months rent from us. So now we are just waiting for the day when they ask us for the best part of £50,000.
Anyway, they treated us harshly from what I can see. However they have been a lot worse to others. Although it will take us 6 years at £800 per month to pay back all the money we have lost in buying the lease in the first place, we are young enough to get over it. I really feel sorry for the older generation, who have lost everything including their youth. My parents have kindly put a roof over our heads. We are lucky to have very very stable and reasonably well paid jobs. Most of all we have our health and are still together!
We have moved the dominoes and pool team to a local club, so still see the locals. But it is not the same. It is very hard to adjust to normal life again. However in the coming months it will be good to have a life, although we dont have much money, we will have time to do anything we want!!
I am glad to see the share price dropped today. Hopefully things can change and those who are holding on will be saved. The pubco’s and Labour have a lot to answer for.
Anyway, I don’t know what you need this for etc, but thanks for listening!! What is your situation? I hope you fare better than I did. Finding the MA forum helped keep me going for the last 3 months. Without it I wouldnt have made it, so I owe a lot of strangers an awful lot. Something I doubt I would ever be able to repay, but you should let everyone know that the regular posters make all the difference in the world. In a sea full of sharks, it was nice to find a small boat to cling to for a while.
Sadly I have had to delete the name of the Pub Co for legal reasons, but they are still using the same tactics and methods in spite of claiming to address the problem in the press.