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Trade visit to the Black Country

On 07/03/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

I was very privileged to be offered a visit to the Black Country with Richard Matthews, our soon to be retiring Midlands’ Secretary, who has served the industry so well. At the invitation of Stuart Plant and Andy Crump, we went to see three Punch pubs and visited Black Country Ales.

First, we went from Sandwell and Dudley, to the Horse and Jockey in Wednesbury; a community pub with a recent major refurbishment jointly funded by the tenant and Punch. Stuart Plant, senior partnership development manager for Punch, met us there and we had an opportunity to meet Carol and Mark, the licensees who are obviously wonderful pub hosts.

The main focus for the refurbishment is an upstairs function room used for everything from a handbag sale or wedding receptions, to a whole range of tribute bands. Carol and Mark are on a 'Foundation Tenancy'; a five-year arrangement which involves considerable support from Punch, particularly in the first year, to help provide the expertise to make it work. Already, sales are up, and John, their business advisor, was there to help some more.

The next pub was the Archers in Walsall, which was opening the next day after a five-week closure and a major refurbishment. Barry and Nikki are also on a Foundation Tenancy and the wet-led pub has a clear sports focus, with darts and pool. In both cases the designs for the new decor really worked and showed what light and colour can do. I am certain that customers will be wowed by the new look. Barry, the Punch business advisor, is always looking for things to put right before the next visit. A very positive influence!

Final stop with Punch was the Arbor Lights, a very unusual and upmarket venue, almost a restaurant, in the centre of Walsall. Unfortunately, Matt the licensee and Punch partner was not there, but the venue is number six, on Trip Advisor, for Walsall and was rated five out of five for ‘Best of Walsall’. An extremely good lunch if you are ever in the area!

All the licensees raised national issues, such as utility bills, licensing costs and business rates. Rates are a particular issue at the Arbor, showing how much need there is for a review.

I drew so many positives from the visits it would be difficult to list them all, but clearly for all three premises a great relationship with Punch is crucial. They are all thriving businesses run by people who wished they had taken the decision earlier to run a pub. There are challenges in all the areas where they are located, but all are the epitome of a community pub, on the way up, wonderful licensees and show exactly why the tied system works so well.

Finally, on to see Angus McMeeking at Black Country Ales and the Old Bulls Head in Lower Gornal. In the heart of the Black Country they even have a beer called Pig on the Wall; a historic reference to a time when pigs were put on the wall to see a carnival pass by - they must have been quite small! When Angus bought the property it came listed with two outhouses. When he investigated further there was an original brewery dating back to the 1800s! So, Black Country Ales was born and serves their 30 pubs within a half-hour drive.

When you spend so much time fighting for the £100 prize for gaming machines (already making a difference to takings), for extended hours for the World Cup and for help on business rates, as well as of course the continuation of our ability to offer low-entry costs to running your own business; it is wonderful to see the benefits to our members and their own licensees and partners.

Thank you all, for your hospitality.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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#freeze4beer – keeping the pressure on

On 26/02/14 by Sophie McIntyre

It’s just over three weeks until Budget 2014. The BBPA team has been busy campaigning, and providing members with campaign tools. With 900,000 working in our industry, we can make a real difference in our call for a duty freeze.

There has been some fantastic campaigning so far – from members small to large: family brewers, global brewers; those with a handful of pubs and those with thousands. A few of these initiatives are highlighted below, which will hopefully provide inspiration for what can be done.

  • Hook Norton has written to all their MPs, using our Oxford Economics local data, personalising each case using their own pubs and breweries. Theakstons has been in correspondence with two local MPs on the issue. They have also included the essential message on duty in all their recent press releases.
  • St Austell has presented a Beer Champion award to local MP Sheryll Murray, and has engaged other local MPs using our Beer Story leaflet, and local statistics.
  • Little Valley Brewery is to feature our new beer mats in pubs and at the Little Valley Brewery Off Licence. They will also be sent local MPs’ offices.
  • Heineken has used both their free trade First Orders and Pub Life lessees magazine to promote the campaign, using infographics from the Beer Story. They have written to all of their UK staff encouraging them to lobby MPs, and targeted every MP in a constituency where they have a brewing operation.
  • They are also sending campaign beermats and a copy of the Beer Story to their more than 2,000 Star Pubs & Bars.
  • Enterprise Inns have engaged all of their staff and publicans by encouraging them to lobby MPs. They have also written to every MP in constituencies where they have a significant presence.
  • Fullers have asked all of their managers to write to their local MPs, making the publican’s case to Parliament. Letters have been flooding in.
  • Timothy Taylors have engaged their local MPs, personalising their case, on the issue.
  • Daleside has engaged their local MP, taken advantage of media opportunities and pushed out campaign messaging on social media.
  • Carlsberg have engaged their local MPs and also used their corporate social media channels to push out the Beer Story infographics.
  • Brewers from Yorkshire and the North East held a Reception in the Houses of Parliament, focusing on the need for a duty freeze.

Of course, these are just a few examples. We would like to know what others have been done to date – please let us know how you have been engaging with the campaign.

Finally, here is a brief summary of the actions you can take and the tools that we have put together to help you and your staff engage.

1. Get your MP onside
Write to your local MP highlighting the sector’s importance in your constituency. We have written up a template letter asking him or her to consider the importance of the sector and then sign the EDM and/or write to the Chancellor.

You can also lobby your MP via a link that CAMRA has set up to help move the campaign along.

2. Engage your local media
Get in touch with your local press. Use our template news release to get them interested in the importance of the industry to your local area. Please fill in the gaps using data from the engagement pack spread sheet.

3. Get your beer mats out there
We have created a range of beer mats modelled on the 2014 Beer Story. Many are now on their way to members across the country – if you would like some, please let us know before they run out!

4. Tweet the #freeze4beer message
Tweet your MP, people in your area and your local media. Let them know the number of jobs and economic contribution of our industry in your local area using the campaign hashtag #freeze4beer.

5. Make your communications personal
Personalise all communication using local level data detailing how important the industry is to your area. This data can be downloaded here. We also have constituency and local authority snapshot sheets – please contact our Public Affairs Manager, Gareth Barrett,, if you would like us to send you any of these.

6. …But keep the broader picture in mind
For more information on the broader economic contribution of the industry, our Beer Story 2014 is available to view here and the infographics from the brochure are also available to download here. Members should also have received this publication in the post.

Thanks for all your help. It is really making a difference.

Sophie McIntyre


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National Pubwatch conference – partnership in action

On 21/02/14 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

The 11th National Pubwatch conference was held this week at the Palace Hotel, Manchester. Well attended by licensees, police, local authorities and others with an interest in the trade, the title of the conference was ‘protect and promote your Pubwatch through partnership working’ and a variety of speakers expounded on this theme.

After a welcome from National Pubwatch chairman Steve Baker, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Sir Peter Fahy opened the conference and was followed by Mark Baird of Diageo giving the trade view of partnership working. ACPO licensing lead Adrian Lee also presented, with a challenge to the trade to increase efforts to tackle alcohol related anti-social behaviour.

The two breakout workshops gave an opportunity for delegates to provide input into two areas – protecting your Pubwatch and partnership working. The first workshop saw pubwatches, police and local authorities receive advice on how to steer clear of legal challenges under the Human Rights Act by ensuring that pubwatches remain independent of public authority direction and ban people based on their own decisions.

The Home Office in the second workshop gave an update on the new Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAAs) held in 20 areas across the country. The LAAAs are intended to bring together local authorities, the police, health bodies and the on- and off-trades in order to address problems related to alcohol misuse with Home Office support. Delegates also heard about the work of the Portman Group in promoting partnership working, and the Hereford Pubwatch HAND scheme whereby those who have been banned can have this lifted upon successful completion of an alcohol awareness course. The pubwatch and police reported that this scheme had seen success during the year it had been in place, and were looking to roll this out to other areas to test its viability in urban areas.

Overall, the conference was one of the most successful National Pubwatch events so far and demonstrated the key role pubwatches play in the social responsibility landscape. The BBPA has been a supporter and promoter of pubwatches and National Pubwatch for a number of years, and we urge members to promote them to their lessees, tenants and managers – especially those new to the trade. There are many successful voluntary partnership schemes which are leading the way in the good management of public spaces, such as local Pubwatches, Best Bar None, Business Improvement Districts and Purple Flag, and should be encouraged at every opportunity.

Jim Cathcart
Policy Manager - Pub Operations


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Recovering from the personal effects of Flooding

On 19/02/14 by Liz Gaffer (Director of Marketing & Charity Services, LTC)

Since the severe weather hit the UK at the turn of 2014 we responded quickly by putting together a useful factsheet that provides practical, step-by-step guidance on what to do if your pub has been affected by floodwater.

Call the LTC 0808 801 0550

We have also contacted relevant trade press to raise awareness of how the Support and Care team at the Licensed Trade Charity are here to help. To-date we have received several calls from people in need of help from across the South of England, including Cornwall, Southampton and as far down as Kent. Some of the ways we offer help includes:

  • Income assistance – if you are struggling to pay monthly household bills due to a lack of income, we could provide short-term financial assistance to see you through.
  • If your home has been damaged and your insurance does not cover the cost of temporary accommodation we could help pay for this.
  • If essential personal items have been destroyed in your home and again are not covered by your insurance policy, we could help replace them.
  • If you are ill and need special support which is not provided elsewhere, in the short-term we could arrange this on your behalf.

Whatever your circumstances, if you manage or work in a pub, club, brewery or off-licensed and have been personally affected by the damage caused by floodwater, the Licensed Trade Charity may be able to help you. Our friendly helpline advisors will certainly look at all the options available to you in times of need. As a Charity, we have been providing support for over 200 years to those working in the pubs trade when they face difficult times.

If you’re struggling from the personal effects caused by flooding, please don’t hesitate to give us a call – our Support and Care helpline is FREE on 0808 801 0550. Lines are open from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week and are free from all landlines and most mobile networks. Or go online and type ‘flood’ to read our useful factsheet.

Liz Gaffer
Director of Marketing & Charity Services, LTC


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WBA Reception

On 14/02/14 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

Brewers throughout the world take a very serious approach to social responsibility and in particular in their continuing efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. Debate surrounding the effects of alcohol consumption rages continuously. However, despite a growing weight of scientific evidence suggesting that the moderate consumption of alcohol does indeed carry significant, net benefit in terms of reducing overall mortality risk, the latest WHO report on cancer risk ignores this research, claiming that all alcohol consumption is harmful.

This claim has now been heavily criticised by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research. WHO is also currently discussing with member countries the extent to which they engage with the private sector in policy development, due to concerns around conflict of interest. However, without industry involvement there is, of course, a risk of important considerations not being heard.

With this in mind, the city of Geneva set the stage on Monday evening for an event hosted by the Worldwide Brewers Alliance (WBA). The event demonstrated why brewers should remain a vital stakeholder in policy developments regarding the harmful use of alcohol; and how to strengthen economic development and trade. The centrepiece of the event was a beer and food pairing session which aimed to challenge some existing preconceptions around beer and enable the industry to showcase the range, diversity and relatively low alcohol content of beer.

WBA Chairman and BBPA Policy Director, Andy Tighe, introduced the WBA, which represents the worlds brewing trade associations and whose members account for 90 per cent of global beer production. In his speech to an audience including a number of ambassadors and other senior representatives to the WHO and WTO from around the world, Andy not only reiterated brewers commitment to reducing the harmful use of alcohol but also the significant economic impact from the global brewing industry - including a $500 billion contribution to the global economy and 14 million employees.

Representatives from the major brewers and individual trade associations were present throughout the evening and attendees were also able to see a demonstration of the WBA's global social responsibility initiatives. These initiatives are available to view through an online database.

However, perhaps the greatest challenge on the evening was the perception of beer and in particular its place as a natural accompaniment to food. As the BBPA's beer sommelier, I was invited by the WBA to explore this with the assembled guests. A concept which all those attending embraced fully, once they were aware of the diversity of beer's flavours and characteristics. The importance of the natural ingredients used in its production was illustrated perfectly through the wide variety of beers from around the world that were supplied by the WBA members for the evening.

The range of beer styles available (including a non-alcoholic beer from the Feldschlösschen Brewery) also enabled me to highlight beer’s relatively low alcohol strength, its nutritional composition and how popular preconceptions surrounding glassware and volume need to be challenged when considering beer as a pairing for food.

Finally, after guiding the assembled throng through the five specially chosen beer and food matches for the night, the challenge was laid down to the audience to take their new found skills and more fully explore further beer pairings with other dishes prepared by the restaurant kitchen.

All in all, a successful and enjoyable evening that yet again highlighted the flexibility and diversity of beer. It also carried a message of the importance for the brewing sector to remain fully engaged in the debate surrounding key global, regional and local challenges related to the reduction of harmful use of alcohol as well as promoting sustainable, economic global development.

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


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A GREAT Week to grow UK beer exports in South Korea

On 07/02/14 by GREAT Weeks Team

There has been a steady increase in UK beer exports over the last two decades. As beer consumption declines steadily in the United Kingdom, producers are increasingly turning to exports as a source of growth. In the next five years, exports are expected to increase by 6.2% per annum to account for 7.3% of industry revenue. UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) are eager to nurture and foster this through the Food and Drink Action plan and forthcoming GREAT Week South Korea, an outward trade mission to Seoul (31st March – 4th April).

South Korea Beer Market Facts
• The Korean beer market is dominated by two major companies, Hite-Jinro and OB. However, the demand for imported beer amongst the younger generation as well as female drinkers is growing at 20% per annum as the demand for products of a higher quality and more varied tastes increases.
• The biggest suppliers of imported bear are currently Japan, Netherland and Ireland and USA.
• In 2013 total beer imports were valued at £ 66m, 21.8% increase from 2012
• The value for UK beer imports was £ 233,675.86, a 95% increase from 2012

UKTI are keen to support UK companies breaking into this market, and the GREAT Week South Korea presents an outstanding opportunity to access substantial business prospects and meet key decision makers in the hospitality and retail industries. The bespoke programme includes participation at sector-specific briefings, seminars, networking events, showcases, site visits and buyer meetings.

Programme Highlights:
• Showcase products at the Food & Drink Festival, at the British Ambassador’s Residence, to 200 invited buyers, distributors and potential clients.
• Network with key contacts from the hospitality industry during the Taste of Britain dinner.
• Serve alcoholic beverages at the British Pub Festival hosted in the British Embassy Bar.
• Network with potential partners and buyers during a joint networking reception with the Fashion sector.

Find Out More:
Costs, grants and a detailed programme are available to download online: GREAT Week South Korea
Deadline for applications: 21st February 2014

please contact the UKTI Event Support Team
T: 0117 933 9546

GREAT Weeks Team


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Battling for brewers, promoting publicans

On 31/01/14 by Gareth Barrett

Our Budget 2014 campaign has, in effect, been in motion since 21st March 2013 – after an evening of celebrating our success in securing an historic beer duty cut in the Budget.

Far from resting on our laurels after last year’s success, we have been working hard, and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead, to present the case for a freeze in beer duty.

The message is more nuanced than before - the challenge and opportunity of a policy environment that follows a duty cut is not one the industry has recently experienced. We have to, of course, make clear the considerable benefits of the duty cut. We have done this in our Cheers! report, and in the updated Beer Story leaflet – and we have been highlighting that for the first time we have had two quarters of consecutive volume growth in beer sales in a decade.

Beer in Britain remains overtaxed. When compared to Europe, the amount of duty paid on every pint is at a level that seriously hinders sector growth. Beer sales in the on-trade, for pubs and publicans, whilst stabilising, have not yet turned the corner.

These messages have to be delivered in a coherent and clear way that encourages advocacy from our Parliamentary supporters, as well as everyone who cares about the beer and pub industry.

So how can we achieve this?

1) Clear economic arguments – George Osborne has indicated that it was economics that won the duty battle in the end – the politics gave us the opportunity to have our policy goals considered, but the numbers had to make sense. As we go forward we have updated information from Oxford Economics allowing us to give detailed constituency information to MPs on the huge positive impact of beer and pubs on jobs and wages, and in their local economy.

2) Our members – our members are our greatest asset. As employers and local businesses they have the capacity to exert a very unique influence on stakeholders and parliamentarians. Through our member engagement packs, they can make a very real difference to this campaign. The wider regional voice is also key – with the upcoming Yorkshire Beer & Pub Association Parliamentary Reception being a fantastic opportunity for this.

3) Alliances remain essential – working with previous duty campaign partners, CAMRA and SIBA, we have produced reports such as ‘Cheers! The impact of the beer duty cut’.

We recently hosted the ‘Parliamentary Beer Champions’ awards – celebrating ongoing Parliamentary support - and have issued certificates for those MPs who could not make the initial event. Offering clear public recognition to our successful advocates allows us to take forward our 2014 case for a beer duty freeze with them – and encourage others to support us this year. These two new initiatives have been complemented by an update of the highly popular ‘Beer Story’ publication and infographics; with the addition of new partner, Pubs of Ulster, coming on board as well. We also have plans to brief wider stakeholders in the near future.

Alongside all of this, Andrew Griffiths MP and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group remain important advocates and a focus for Parliamentary engagement.

4) Using our opportunities - we have made sure to link in our key Budget messages in all of our work with MPs, the media and Parliamentarians. We have continued our strategic media partnerships, using those relationships we worked so hard to form, to provide a stream of media friendly stories with regular hits. Our branded materials contain both good news and challenges.

In short, we have a campaign with a clear and concise message, and a plan that brings together the BBPA and the wider industry to make the compelling case for a beer duty freeze. Please use the various links to find out more, or feel free to get in touch!

Gareth Barrett


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Jobs lead the agenda at BBPA working group

On 31/01/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

The BBPA Jobs Working Group met this week in Cardiff, under the chairmanship of Scott Waddington of S A Brain. Although our membership was slightly depleted due to travelling difficulties, we had a very good exchange of information on subjects ranging from the BBPA Budget submission to work experience, apprenticeships and the Pub Chefs campaign to an update from People 1st. We even visited the very impressive Brain's training kitchen.

Scott Waddington is a member of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. They are currently undertaking one of the largest ever audits of skill levels in the UK and are in some cases looking at specific sectors. They are also the guardians of Investors in People and are rejuvenating the scheme to make it more appropriate for business.

The Group discussed working with DWP (I met the new Minister Esther McVey MP) at the end of last year. They are responsible for Job CentrePlus whose success at a local level appears variable, particularly in London. We are urging training for JobCentre Plus staff in London as the next tranche of regional training, and in the meantime, the Perceptions Group is looking at how pre-work screening and training with commercial providers like CPL, can help job seekers prepare for work experience in a pub.

Apprenticeships are undergoing an overhaul. The new frameworks must be employer led and there will very soon be discussions about one framework for each skill e.g. chefs. The training will have to last for a year and be truly skills based. BBPA will be engaging with People 1st and writing to Matthew Hancock MP to seek involvement. What was heartening was the number of apprenticeships. Ever since the announcement of 50 apprenticeships in 50 days at Robinsons, I have felt excited about the opportunities for those working in our sector. Marstons told us they have 400 to 450 apprentices in their pubs and about six at their head office. Punch has 170 to 180 and Brains about 95 to 100.

We talked about the BBPA Pub Chefs campaign. We are looking to make a film to change perceptions and engage through a peer to peer video directly with young people. We need young chefs who work in your businesses to volunteer to help. They need to inspire and connect with young people, have outside interests and be engaging. If any of your team fit the bill, please make contact with David Wilson.

Finally we discussed the potential increases in the National Minimum Wage. There has been speculation that the Chancellor is looking to raise the NMW to £7 by 2015 and even 11% increase staged over two years would hurt our sector and be out of line with average earnings. The BBPA recently hosted a regional visit of the Low Pay Commission and gave evidence regarding the impact of a large increase on the pub sector and potential job creation. Let us hope that their recommendation, which should be with the Government by the end of February, will be sensible and listened to. There is a fragile recovery beginning which we are keen to encourage through our pubs.

The Working Group will be meeting again in May - if in your team you have someone with an interest in these subjects, please let me know. We would be delighted for them to join us.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Pub Companies and the Opposition Debate

On 21/01/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Once again the BBPA and our pub company members are in the firing line as the Labour Party holds an opposition debate on pub companies and their relationship with their lessees and tenants.

BBPA is quite clear: We support the tie and we believe it is vital to the British pub trade. The tie provides a low-cost, low risk partnership between pub companies and their lessees and tenants. For as little as £30,000 entrepreneurs can run their own pub. If you wanted to buy a pub, it would probably cost in excess of £500,000.

It is the recession, high taxes and too much red tape which are the causes of pub’s recent problems, as of course we have seen elsewhere in the high street.

If you look at the responses to the consultation which BIS published just before Christmas, you find sane and sensible organisations urging caution. London Economics, appointed by BIS to undertake an economic appraisal of the proposals, believe that 18% of the pub covered in the consultation would become unviable without the pub company support. The OFT was quite clear that requiring pub companies to offer a free of tie option would set an unhelpful precedent and that large non-brewing companies already source beer from a variety of suppliers.

Perhaps most important of all, the industry has moved on. Self regulation is working. In no other industry can you complain about rents and any other behaviour from your landlord at so little cost. Any commercial tenant facing upward only rent reviews and a landlord based overseas would welcome the support we offer with open arms. The Self regulatory code (now at version 6) can of course evolve, but it already provides transparency and tackles a range of commercially sensitive issues.

A number of claims have been made by our detractors about the cost of beer, how prices rise and that the pub company takes too much in profit, but the reality is that pub companies invested some £200 million in capital in 2012. Do we seriously believe that without this support the banks would be providing the £30,000 needed for a new kitchen? There has been a transfer of value through additional support, rent decreases (down some 5% in 2012) and funding of non-obligatory repairs. Beer is cheaper in tenanted and leased pubs than it is in the independent sector.

Breaking the tie would lead to brewery closures and because competition law would not allow the Government to specify craft ale, the tenant would be encouraged to sell the pub’s best selling lager, rather than craft ale from local brewers.

There is a lot of emotion in this debate, but too often MPs only hear one side of the story. They must be encouraged to ask the pub company for their views too. It is not in the interest of pub companies that tenants change or pubs close. At the end of the day. failure is often down to a lack of understanding about the use of cash. More and more pub companies are providing ‘stabilisers’; support for a year or more with a sharing of open book accounting and real help from professionals along the way. How many other small businesses receive this sort of support from their landlord? The pub company model is evolving. Statutory intervention is not needed and would remove the benefits already derived from the Chancellor’s cut in beer duty in last year’s Budget.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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