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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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Eye on the prize – machine boost for pubs

On 17/01/14 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

This week’s increase in fruit machine prizes to £100 is another welcome move from Government to assist the pub sector. The BBPA has been pushing for an increase in prizes for Category C (also known as AWPs or fruit) machines and the reinstatement of the Triennial Review, whereby prizes are reviewed every three years.

With many companies and licensees changing their operating style over the last few years to an increasingly food-led approach, the number of machines in pubs has declined over the last decade. However, machines remain a key part of the wider product and entertainment mix that a large amount of pubs offer, and we are pleased to see that the Government has recognised this fact. The income from machines is important to the economics of many pubs, and for some business the income from machines can have a key impact on their viability. An increase in prizes to £100 will deliver significant benefits to the pub machine sector, as well as the resultant positive impact on manufacturers and the supply chain. Based on feedback from members and previous experience from 2009, we estimate a revenue uplift of ten per cent over two years from the £100 prize increase.

The BBPA and its members do of course recognise their responsibilities in respect of preventing underage play of machines, and ensuring that machines in pubs remain a fun activity ancillary to the main attractions of socialising, eating and drinking. With this in mind, we have recently updated our code of practice on machines which reminds operators of their responsibilities with regard to staff training and placement of machines so they can be supervised. BBPA members have also been encouraged to incorporate underage play and social responsibility messaging in any promotion of the new prize level.

There are still challenges in the pub machine sector. The implementation of Machine Games Duty last year was an issue for pubs – the headache of registration was a particular problem in leased/tenanted and independent businesses, where advice and information on MGD was harder to disseminate. This was a major change licensees had to deal with at a difficult economic time – and we will be arguing to let this new tax bed in and not increase the rate going forward.

The BBPA has a Panel dedicated to machines and other pub entertainment such as satellite TV and music copyright, where members are very active in all relevant issues and works to protect and promote gaming machines in pubs. Please contact me ( if your company wishes to be represented on the Panel or for further information.

Jim Cathcart
Policy Manager - Pub Operations


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Challenges ahead for Licensed Trade Charity

On 16/01/14 by Liz Gaffer (Director of Marketing & Charity Services, LTC)

Getting our message and free 0808 801 0550 helpline number in front of all the hard-working people in the pubs and breweries, to let them know we are here for them when they face difficulties is a critical part of my job. So it’s great to hear that there is now something of a ‘buzz’ around the industry about the good work the Licensed Trade Charity is doing.

Since re-launching our website, and demonstrating our relevance to the pub trade, we are delighted that some of the bigger pub companies are now on-board and helping us spread the word within their organisations. We are successfully working with Punch Taverns, Spirit Pub Company, Heineken and JW Lees and have recently released e-campaigns to breweries including Greene King, Shepherd Neame, Thwaites, Hydes, and the smaller family brewer Wadworths.

Informative content on our website continues to grow apace as we cover more and more issues pertinent to those working in the trade. During the recent storms we issued a press release informing all licensees to go online for practical guidance on what to do if they, their pub or their bar staff have been affected by the floods. This is just one example of the support and care we provide to our industry, but there are many more ways we offer help on personal issues from financial worries, health concerns, housing issues and family matters.

If you work in HR or have an Operational role at a Corporate level, and you see the benefits of working together with the Licensed Trade Charity to help more people facing difficulties in the pub trade, please get in touch. Securing partnerships remains my biggest challenge in the year ahead.

Liz Gaffer
Director of Marketing & Charity Services, LTC


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The Christie + Co Business outlook for Pubs, Restaurants and Leisure

On 15/01/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Christie + Co held their annual Business Outlook event last night to launch their 2014 review. Frances Edmonds hosted a question and answer session with David Rugg, their Chairman, and Chris Day, the Managing Director. The clear direction was that the summer of 2012 with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee saw the bottom of the curve in terms of economic activity, but since then as Frances put it with a para phrasing of Baroness Thatcher "There are not so many problems; only opportunities"

Neil Morgan (who acted as my host) provides some very positive data for pubs which is well timed with another Parliamentary Opposition Debate on pub companies soon approaching. So, a few facts to digest; the number of pubs sold to remain as pubs reached 67%; a 5% increase on 2012. Experienced operators and entrepreneurs are back. London remains in its own bubble trading wise with food as a driver, along with cask ale. It is interesting that Simon Chaplin who heads up the restaurant side wrote that some restaurants may chose "to diversify their offering in order to compete with ....the pub sector whose proposition has improved exponentially over the last decade."

On pub companies the report states: "The beer tie is going through a natural evolution...and pub companies understand there is more to be gained by managing the tenant relationship better and encouraging new tenants into the sector."

In terms of market predictions for 2014, Christies see a slowdown in tenanted disposals as pub companies become satisfied with their estates. The trend seeing more sold pubs remaining as pubs will continue upwards. The average price of pub year on year has moved from a 20.1% decline in 2009 to a 3.3 % increase in 2013... Christies remain "confident that the pub sector is in as healthy as position as it has been for many a long year."

You can read the report in full here.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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The cleanup begins – responding to flood damage

On 10/01/14 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

Thankfully, the extreme wet weather and high winds that have battered the UK since Christmas Eve now appear to be subsiding and in the wake of flooding, thoughts are turning to the clean-up ahead. Many of us face the mammoth, and in some cases heart-breaking, task of repairing the damage caused to flood damaged homes but businesses have also suffered and here there may be particular challenges to face. Pubs are one such example and in the attempt to address damage caused by flooded cellars the following pointers may help in the clean-up process.

First and foremost, it is the responsibility of the pub operator to ensure that the cellar and its contents are professionally sanitised. Documentary evidence that this has been carried out satisfactorily must be presented to any personnel entering the cellar and will include sanitisation of all equipment, kegs, casks and gas cylinders.

Line cleaning and glass washing should only be undertaken using potable water and all cellar contents that has been in contact with flood water should be assumed to be contaminated - these may therefore present a health risk. However, in the instance that equipment can be recovered from the cellar the following should be considered:

Electrical equipment: The components and wiring in electrical equipment recovered from flooded pub cellars will be damaged. The cellar service provider will recover the equipment for safe disposal / destruction with recovery of costs being subject to the insurance claim made by the outlet.

Kegs and casks: Unbroached kegs may be unaffected, but if contacted by flood water, should be returned to the brewery. Where casks have been contacted by flood water, the contents must be discarded since the shive is porous and there is a risk that the contents could be contaminated.

Dispense lines/ equipment: Cellar technical services will be responsible for the replacement of dispense equipment and beer lines that have been affected by flood water and recovery of costs will be subject to the insurance claim made by the outlet.

All containers affected by flood water should be clearly marked prior to uplift and returned to the brewery and documentary evidence should be presented to dray crew to show that the containers being uplifted for return have been sanitised in situ.

For full information on dealing with flood damage to pub cellars the BBPA has produced a technical circular, a copy of which can be obtained by contacting Steve Livens ( or 020 7627 9136.

Brewers and publicans can also contact the Licensed Trade Charity for further help and assistance. Examples of how the LTC may be able to help publicans and their families include:

• Income – if publicans will lose income as a result of the pub damage and publicans are struggling to manage essential living costs, the charity may be able to help with short term solutions, for example paying for regular essential monthly bills in the home.

• If publicans have had their homes damaged and the insurance does not cover the cost of temporary accommodation, the LTC may be able to pay for this.

• If essential items have been destroyed in the home, again not covered by insurance, we may be able to help replace them.

• If your staff and families are ill, and need special support which is not provided elsewhere in the short term, we might be able to arrange this.

These are just some of the ways the LTC may be able to help, so please encourage publicans to give them a call FREE on 0808 801 0550 to find out more. The helpline is open from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week. Calls are free from landlines and most mobile networks.

Alternatively, go online and type ‘flood’ to receive up-to-date information and practical advice.

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


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Is ‘Dry January’ the way forward?

On 06/01/14 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Going on the wagon post-Christmas is hardly is a new idea and for many seems like the best option after holiday indulgence.

However, this year ‘Dry January’ has hit the headlines in a big way with Alcohol Concern encouraging people to take part and Cancer Research UK and others calling for people to undertake a ‘dryathalon’. The challenge involves giving up booze for all 31 days of January to improve health, save money and in some cases get sponsored.

Whilst the intention of getting people to think about their health should be encouraged, is the culture of binge and fast sensible and realistic, particularly given that many fall off the wagon with a spectacular thud at some point during, or soon after, the month? Is not encouraging moderate consumption year round a better alternative to abstinence?

There have been a variety of different perspectives on Dry January published already including Alice Jones in the Independent discussing the justification for gaining sponsorship for doing something for yourself and Tom Sykes in the Telegraph looking at whether giving up alcohol for a month could be the sign of a drink problem. However, new data published by the ONS before Christmas on the perceptions of health by different categories of drinker provides an interesting additional perspective to the debate around perceptions of health:

• 83% of adults who said they drink alcohol rated their general health positively compared to 68% of adults who said they do not drink
• Those who consumed alcohol three days in the last week rated their health the most positively

• Those who didn't drink at all and those who drank every day in the last week were the least likely to rate their health positively;
• Those who said that they drink a moderate amount were also more likely to rate their health positively than those who never drink or drink heavily and all other categories of drinker.

Research from University College London medical school and the New Scientist published last week appeared to suggest that cutting out alcohol for one month could lead to a reversal of liver damage, improved brain function and weight loss. However, whilst an interesting experiment it is all too easy for a single report to grab the headlines and scare people into decisions with limited information.

It is worth remembering that the balance of evidence up until now demonstrates that moderate levels of alcohol intake have been associated with lower mortality risk and may confer an overall net health benefit when compared with either abstention or a high level intake, (otherwise known as the J-shaped curve). A good summary of the available evidence around alcohol and health can be found in Tony Edward’s book ‘The Good News about Booze’.

There is also mounting scientific evidence that moderate alcohol consumption, as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, can have a positive impact on a number of health conditions including coronary heart disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis and degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Although perception is clearly no replacement for medical evidence, the ONS data does seem to support the general view that moderate levels of alcohol consumption can form part of a healthy lifestyle. It is also worth remembering that national trends continue to show an overall decline in alcohol consumption and among those classed as ‘binge drinkers’.

Whilst it is of course up to individuals to make their own decisions it should at least be based on the correct information. I for one will not be going dry for January but will continue to drink moderately and responsibly and support our pubs and brewers in what can be a challenging time of the year (I might just manage to drag myself back to the gym though!).

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


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2013 - a turning point for the industry

On 20/12/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

As featured in On-trade Review

I hope we look back on 2013 as a turning point for the industry. While trading conditions remain a challenge, we have had successes which put us in a far better place that we had dared to hope at the start of the year.

Let me begin with beer duty. There is no doubt that the abolition of the beer duty escalator, and the cut in beer duty in the March Budget was an astonishing success for all those who campaigned so tirelessly for many years. It was also a great tribute to joined-up campaigning in the trade, with huge support and expertise, not least from CAMRA, but from a large number of organisations and individuals in the supply chain who contributed to this success.

Let’s not forget the impact. The two per cent cut means that beer duty is now seven per cent lower than it was due to be this year. Furthermore, we face no automatic, above inflation increase in 2014. The challenge now and in 2014 is to keep campaigning, highlighting the benefits of the cut - on confidence, on investment, and on employment in the sector.

We are already doing just that. We have published a six month review of the positive impact, and have already begun a campaign for a duty freeze in the 2014 Budget. It is vital that the whole industry keeps up the pressure.

Maintaining volumes for beer in the home market remains a challenge, especially in the on-trade. However, we are now witnessing unprecedented investment in the beer category as a whole, with the Launch of the Let There Be Beer campaign.

Let There Be Beer, with its TV advertising and high-profile campaign, is one of the most significant investments in British beer in many decades. Opportunities for on-trade participation in the campaign will grow, and I believe that by 2014 will see the campaign bringing real benefits to the whole beer category.

At the BBPA, we have also worked hard to position beer and pubs at the heart of the UK tourism offer – with considerable success this year, with the launch of the Pubs are GREAT, and Heritage is Great strands of the high-impact Britain is GREAT campaign – the latter now features British beers in its poster campaign.

On pubs, there is now a different mood in Government when it comes to seeing the trade as central to the UK tourism industry, both in terms of attracting overseas visitors, and seeing pubs as central to the domestic tourism trade. In 2013, we should see the full impact, as this campaign gathers pace.

Despite the challenges, the pub trade is seeing other really positive developments. The focus on professionalism and training is something I see as key to future success. UK plc needs more apprenticeships and a step change in attitudes when it comes to seeing work in the pub trade as a highly-skilled career choice. The Government is aware of the need for action and we will see more positive partnerships when it comes to establishing these opportunities in the trade.

Of course. we will continue to face challenges in 2014, when it comes to attempts to over-regulate the trade. The Government’s localism agenda, while a good thing in itself, was always going to raise issues, in terms of local authorities and police forces attempting to over-regulate their local pub trade, often to the detriment of local economies as well as the trade itself.

In 2014, we will continue to oppose individual authorities in the efforts to implement costly late night levies and early morning restriction orders. There is currently a mixed picture. While there is no doubt considerable interest in using these new measures, many authorities are retreating from the proposals once they realise the damaging effect they can have on local businesses – often thanks to well argued interventions from the trade, putting the arguments forward on a case-by-case basis.

To resist moves in this direction, we will also have to step up to the plate when it comes to partnership working. We must work hard to persuade local authorities that this is the best way to improve town centres.

Despite these challenges, I am optimistic. The Government has made significant moves to improve confidence in the trade. The pubs minister, Brandon Lewis, has proved receptive to our concerns. With competing priorities within Government, he won’t win every battle, but he is someone who can successfully champion pubs. He has also now taken on responsibility for the Government’s policies in relation to the renewal of our high streets. This is an area where pubs can and should play a crucial role, and it is all to the good that these responsibilities are now being brought together.

There is much to look forward to in 2014.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Seven beers for seven breakfasts

On 10/12/13

Guest Blog from Dea Latis

Dea Latis, the women and beer group held its second Beers with Breakfast event last week in a seven-beer hair-of-the-dog morning session at the Somers Town Coffee House in London.

The female gathering of journalists, bloggers, brewers and marketeers assembled to test their taste buds alongside the delicious breakfast menu at the Yummy Pub Co owned pub in Chalton Street near Euston.

Beer sommelier, Jane Peyton, was guest speaker for the group and offered her impassioned plea to women to consider the UK’s national drink as regular a drink of choice.

There was no need to persuade the hungry group of tasters of the merits of beer as Beer Sommelier Annabel Smith began her tutored tasting and everyone got stuck in.

Over the next 90 minutes they quaffed, nibbled, deliberated, Tweeted, snapped and scribbled through seven beers - kindly donated by each of the brewers - and the accompanying breakfast courses in true multi-tasking style.

The menu began with a poached egg and smoked salmon with Hollandaise drizzle on a toasted muffin served with St Austell Brewery’s 4.8% abv Clouded Yellow beer and ended with a Wells and Young’s 5.2% abv Double Chocolate Stout served with pancakes with chocolate sauce and blueberries. (See the full menu below.)

At the end of the tasting the unanimous winner was the eggs and smoked salmon with Hollandaise dish which beautifully complemented the citrusy notes of St Austell Brewery’s Clouded Yellow beer.

Lisa Harlow, who helped to organise the event with Ros Shiel and Annabel Smith, said: “At the end of a fantastic year for beer – and a year where there are more women brewing and drinking beer than ever before* – this was a wonderful cross-industry celebration of our versatile, varied and flavoursome UK brews. It was great that we could highlight that different styles of beers will go with just about anything – even breakfast!”

*Women trying real ale for the first time has grown from 14% to 34% in the last three years. CAMRA, August 2013

The seven beers with seven breakfasts menu

With thanks to all the brewers who donated and delivered the beers and to Anthony and the crew at Somers Town Coffee House, the full beer and food menu was as follows:

  • Poached Egg and Smoked Salmon with Hollandaise Drizzle served with St Austell Brewery’s Clouded Yellow 4.8% (from St Austell Brewery in Cornwall)
  • Crispy Smoked Bacon with a herby grilled tomato served with Freedom Pilsner Lager 5% (from Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire)
  • Bombardier Rarebit Crumpet served with Wells and Young’s Bombardier 4.1% (from Bedford)
  • Black Pudding and Apple Crisp served with Timothy Taylors Landlord 4.1% (from Keighley in West Yorkshire)
  • Chilli Avocado on French Toast served with Thwaites Wainwright 4.1% (from Blackburn in Lancashire)
  • Banana and Strawberry Smoothie served with Wells and Young’s Banana Bread Beer 5.2% (from Bedford)
  • Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce and Blueberries served with Wells and Young’s Chocolate Stout 5.2% (from Bedford)

For more information go to: or follow them on Twitter @DeaLatis or like them on Facebook at /DeaLatis.


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