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Brigid Simmonds appears at BIS Select Committee: Pub companies – a note

On 12/06/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Brigid Simmonds, 9.30am, 11th June 2013

I gave evidence to the BIS Select Committee yesterday and although you can watch the session online, I thought the below note covering my responses would be useful for members to have to hand.

Brigid Simmonds told the Committee that self-regulation is working, and while the implementation of Version Six of the Code had taken time, meaningful change had been incorporated. She quoted previous Minster Ed Davey who understood the industry’s concerns and had not proposed intervention.

On the 500 pub threshold proposed by the Government, Mrs Simmonds said it should include leased and tenanted pubs only, as otherwise, pub companies with managed estates would be paying for an adjudicator they could not use. Free-of-tie companies should not be covered, she said, as their relationship with their tenant was no different to other landlord/tenant relationships, and franchises should also be excluded.

She agreed that smaller companies should not be covered, as long as the 500 threshold did not distort competition. Asked if companies might seek to undermine the threshold by dividing their estates between new companies, Mrs Simmonds said this would not be easy to do, and no discussions had taken place with BBPA members on this.

Mrs Simmonds was questioned on delays in the introduction of Version Six of the BBPA code. She said it needed to be right and not rushed, and explained how this was being implemented. Adrian Bailey however suggested that it was industry foot-dragging that had precipitated Government action.

There was a discussion over the legally binding nature of the Code, with some committee members raising concerns that both Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns had disputed this point in legal proceedings. Mrs Simmonds was absolutely clear the code was legally binding.

On the consultation proposals, she said she accepted the principle of fairness which had been enshrined in Version 5 of the BBPA code. On the principle of 'no worse off' for tied tenants, she said that needed to be done to explain the benefits of a tied tenancy.

She went on to set out the main concerns arising from the difference between current self-regulation and the proposals. On free-of-tie, there was a concern over what would replace industry buying power. On guest beer provision, current beer choice in the tied sector was already huge, and on the gaming machine tie, there were concerns that its removal would remove the expertise needed to maintain its profitability. On flow-monitoring, she said that it was a useful management tool and should not be banned simply because the technology had not existed before.

Asked about the new arbitration services set up under self-regulation Mrs Simmonds said it was a great system and it was moving forward, with a new governance board. While funded by BBPA members it was completely independent and low-cost. She pointed out that inquiries through the system should be resolved without coming to either PIRRS or PICAS, and that was how the system should work. The BBPA would continue to operate the system even under an adjudicator, though there were issues with funding, and there were concerns that the adjudicator would replicate the current system. She went on to say that the whole of the high street was currently suffering, and more free-of-tie pubs were closing than tied. While there were historic problems, you could obtain a pub for as little as £30,000, and pre-entry training had been introduced.

Mrs Simmonds was asked about ALMR benchmarking which indicated that tied pub rents were greater as a percentage of turnover. Mrs Simmonds said she had not looked at this, but that SCORFA was worth between £6,000 and £10,000 per pub. She also referred to investment in capital infrastructure, and there was further indirect financial support through discounts and rent reductions. There were concerns this would not be forthcoming from banks. We would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater if we ditched the tied system, she said.

On levels of rent, Mrs Simmonds said they had come down, 6% in the last year. She agreed to provide recent average increases/decreases from rent reviews.

Asked if pubcos were properly sharing information to tenants before they take on a lease or tenancy, Mrs Simmonds said that the code was hugely comprehensive in this respect and not much more information could be given.

On pub closures, she was asked if she supported comments from Ten Tuppen and Jonathan Paveley including that thousands of pubs were at risk. Mrs Simmonds said she agreed there was real concern that pubs would close, due to guest beer and free-of-tie options. She was pressed to provide the evidence and said that while some information on this was commercially sensitive, the BBPA would be submitting evidence on this to DBIS.

On licensee incomes Mrs Simmonds said the BBPA had written to CAMRA and asked for details of their recent survey.

She was asked to respond to comments from Ted Tuppen that a legal challenge to the proposals in the European Courts could take place. Mrs Simmonds said that he had been misquoted, and while there were no plans and no BBPA discussions had taken place, this could not be ruled out. The BBPA wanted to work with the Government and had meetings scheduled with the Government.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Campden BRI Day 2013

On 10/06/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Over 500 people attended the Campden BRI Day this year. This included 20 members from brewing companies, thanks to the persuasion and persistence of Tom Falcon from Shepherd Neame who spoke passionately about the need to support this event at a recent dinner in Brewers Hall. It was my first visit to the Chipping Campden site of Campden BRI, now fully merged with BRI at Nuffield where much of the brewing research is undertaken, and whilst a 5.15 am start made it a rather long day, it was certainly worthwhile!

The guest speaker was Michael McCain, CEO of Maple Leaf Foods in Canada. He spoke about our world food crises, the need to increase yields, accept technology as a friend, to ensure we reduce waste and accept that there is "no good food or bad food, just good diets and bad diets".

I was given an excellent tour of the site and of the many services offered by Campden BRI which are applicable for both brewing and pubs by Martin Hall, the Director of Science. The use of 'forensic' science techniques in identifying and tracing contaminants are services many members already use, but there is so much more we could use. Is your packaging fit for purpose and how might changes to your product interact with the container in which it is sold? Consumer and sensory science panels allow products to be compared against each other by expert consumer groups. For instance, how premium chocolate compares with a competitor's product could be extended to how your fish and chips might compare with a similar dish sold in another pub! Do you want to offer homemade bread; Campden BRI's bread making training centre The Millennium Bakery was demonstrating artisan and sour dough bread production and courses are available for members. And these are just a taste of the technological services that are available!

But it's not all science and laboratories - between the Nutfield and Chipping Campden sites, Campden BRI also offer a diverse variety of information and advisory services and training in areas that include food production, quality and safety, understanding and implementation of regulation and legislation and food labelling. Members are also encouraged to attend Member Interest Groups (MIG) which have a direct impact on the research that is undertaken at the Chipping Campden site. The announcement of the Brewing and Fermented Beverages MIG, which will allow brewing members to have a similar input, was announced at Campden BRI Day and will begin in September with a seminar to be held at the Nutfield site.

It will certainly be worth looking at how the services at Campden BRI might be used to the benefit of both brewers and pub owners...from grain to glass and beyond! However, the services are particularly important in light of recent events where we may be missing a trick if food issues are not considered just as important as brewing issues.

If you would like to listen to the lecture in full, it is available to stream here

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Inspiring the caterers of tomorrow

On 07/06/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

I attended the Nestlé Toque d’Or Awards Dinner, to congratulate those high achievers being presented with awards as a result of the catering competition, which is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. The competition has a reputation for challenging and inspiring chefs and front of house teams of the future. Anton Mosimann was its first winner and still plays an active part. One part of the prize is to spend a week at his establishment. The winners this year came from South West College, Dungannon Northern Ireland.

With the huge increase in food now served in pubs - who now serve one billion meals a year and more food than in restaurants - the ability to attract good chefs and food and beverage specialists is hugely important. There is a need for us to do more with catering colleges; enthusing the chefs of the future with the ability to run your own business or premises in a pub. This year M & B provided one of the judging challenges which was to make a sweet for a pub meal. The teams are tested not only on their cooking and presentation skills, but also on costs, profit margins and the commercial skills which are, of course, so very important.

Nestlé are Associate Members of the BBPA and have worked with a number of members, particularly around coffee and the professional services they offer. They are also interested in environmental services, particularly around waste.

The awards were inspiring and hugely enjoyable. They epitomised the sort of standards we are looking for in the future and hopefully more pubs will be interested supporting the Toque d’Or awards in future.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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The awards season is upon us...

On 06/06/13 by Gareth Barrett

After a hugely successful 2012 launch, this year’s BBPA Industry Awards are just around the corner! The BBPA is very keen to reward member companies who seek to celebrate and champion our industry.

The awards categories:

The Beer Champion, Pub Champion and Heart of the Community awards all aim to reward a positive company ethos and excellence in innovation– those members who in their every action look to improve, support and build not only their own interests – but the sector as a whole.

The achievements of last year’s worthy winners serve to remind other members of the opportunities available to them to recognise their own successes.

The Beer Champion 2013 award looks to highlight companies which have successfully sought to promote, improve and celebrate beer as a category. Whether by pioneering a new method of dispense or creating an innovative product design, or crafting a memorable advertising or marketing campaign – we really are looking for that special something setting you apart from the rest of the pack in 2013. The Liberation Group were the inaugural winners – with an entry that showed a real dedication to beer. They encouraged Ale Trails, informed customers on the science of brewing, whilst also promoting its natural basis, they seek to educate on variety, style and more. Their beers offer real diversity in terms of styles, presentation and innovation.

Britain’s pubs are one of the nation’s greatest assets, and the Pub Champion 2013 (sponsored by BT) award seeks to reward companies that have worked to make sure they remain a national treasure for future generations. Last year’s winner, Daniel Thwaites, sought to set the standard in tenant support and business partnership, proving to be a company that sets high expectations and met them. Their success came about through the innovation behind their WayInn initiative, their high quality PubTalk magazine, their motivational company competitions, the commitment to investing in challenging pubs through Project 11 and the efforts in menu development.

The final company award looks for members that, through their own corporate initiatives or leading-edge partnerships, have demonstrated a proven commitment to their local community. This award the Heart of the Community Award, looks for that broad ethos and commitment and will seek information on the actual impacts made. The first winner, Joseph Holt, has for the long term committed itself to making a difference. They differentiated themselves in that everyone from the brewery to the boardroom, cellar man to chairman, engages and seeks to make a difference. They illustrated a proven commitment to their local community, with long standing partnerships to both the Christie Hospital and homes for those on low incomes.

The question is now – can your company do better? Every day the team at the BBPA see excellent examples from our members – now it’s your opportunity to be rewarded for those efforts.

To find out more about the Awards and information on how to enter please click here or email

Gareth Barrett


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A view from Europe

On 03/06/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Brewers of Europe (BoE), holds quarterly meetings of ‘Secretaries General’ (my equivalents). Last week, they met in Luxembourg and on Friday this was followed by the General Assembly which was also attended by BBPA Chairman Jonathan Neame.

Key issues of interest included previous studies undertaken by Ernst & Young on the economic contribution of beer to the European economy, which are about to be updated. Members raised the importance of the on-trade for sales of beer and the (relatively high) cost of production of beer, both of which were key components of our UK Budget submission. The next report will be more journalistic in tone, but will continue to provide key data from all states which make up the BoE membership.

Considerable time was spent discussing calorie and nutritional information. The current derogation for alcohol, which permits the voluntary declaration of calories and nutritional information, is due to expire in 2014 and members discussed a more front-foot approach to the Commission for on-pack and on-line. However this will be considered against a mandatory approach in 2014 by the Commission. Ultimately, it will be up to individual states to see how this might be implemented at a national level, but if voluntary information is to be provided, it will have to follow the rules for voluntary labelling per 100 ml.

Henri Malosse, the President of the Economic & Social Committee will be speaking at the Beer Serves Europe event at the end of the year. The ESC has become more important in recent years as a consultative committee within the EU.

The Brewers of Europe is taking an administrative complaint to the European Commission about duty rises in France, and is also working on combating proposals to ban the use of caramel in malt beverages. Discussions continue with OECD (which is undertaking a report on alcohol) and the World Health Organisation which has an alcohol strategy.

These are among the many issues where the Brewers of Europe provides eyes and ears across Europe, allowing us to share best practice on responsibility, economic and social issues on all or our agendas.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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The science of beer - BBPA at EBC 2013

On 31/05/13 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

Following the success of EBC 2011 in Glasgow, BBPA staff were once again present at Europe's premier, bi-annual brewing science showcase; The Congress of the European Brewing Convention. The 34th EBC Congress this week was hosted in the historical city of Luxembourg at the Lux Congrès Centre.

Over 400 delegates were welcomed to the Congress on Sunday evening by His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri and the current EBC President, Dr Stefan Lustig.

The technical programme started in earnest on Monday with Georges M. Lentz Jnr., CEO of the Brasserie Nationale, leading the opening session with an overview of brewing in Luxembourg and the challenges for a small country surrounded on all sides by large, established brewing nations! The remainder of the session explored how the industry can use its scientific legacy to encourage more young scientists to consider a career in brewing and how brewing science might be communicated to consumers to help raise the profile of beer as a beverage category.

Over a couple of days, the main technical sessions delivered presentations addressing a wide range of issues faced by the industry today. Sustainability concerns such as water and energy efficiency, environmental management as well as potential alternative uses of brewery co-products were addressed, followed by a wide range of brewing process and production related research. Beer aroma and control of beer staling through new monitoring techniques and process control was also discussed as was the development of novel raw materials. Some fascinating papers were also presented on the causes of gushing in beer as well as control of barley and malt quality.

The UK was well represented at the Congress. The International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Nottingham University and Campden BRI all presented papers and posters. In addition to the academic scientists, Shepherd Neame's own Elaine Martin also presented a poster, in association with Newcastle University and the University of Kent, on the Optimisation of Fermentation Cooling Profile.

For me, however, the highlight of the Congress were the yeast and microbiology sessions where Dr Diego Libkind from Argentina presented his work identifying the origins of lager yeast isolated from Patagonian rain forests and Dr Riikka Juvonen from VTT, Finland who presented on her microbiological analysis of 200 year old shipwrecked beer!

The brewing industry is dependent on the robust, relevant and new scientific research. The 35th Congress will be held in Porto, Portugal in 2015 and whilst Luxembourg will certainly be a tough act to follow, if this year’s Congress is anything to go by, the industry can rest assured that Porto will continue to see the further delivery of exactly that!

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


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John Sergeant to host the 2013 BBPA Annual Dinner & Awards!

On 30/05/13 by Sophie McIntyre

We are now taking bookings for the British Beer & Pub Association Annual Dinner and Awards 2013. This year’s event will take place at the Park Plaza, Westminster, London, on Wednesday 9th October.

Our host for this year's event is a unique media personality, with decades of his life spent covering hard news. He later put in the hours on that slightly less high brow TV institution, Strictly Come Dancing. I, for one, cannot forget his grace and poise...

However, it must not be forgotten that Sergeant has a wicked sense of humour. He began his post university life writing comedy scripts and playing characters for Alan Bennett, before returning to the limelight much later in his career as the host of one of the funniest Have I Got News for You episodes ever recorded. He flitted between author, broadcaster and journalist during his career, but Sergeant is best known for his 20 year role as the BBC's chief political correspondent - all stemming from his first press job as a reporter on the Liverpool Echo before he joined the BBC in 1970.

The broadcast which shot him into the limelight on a permanent basis was the ‘handbagging’ incident, which took place on the steps of the British Embassy in Paris just days before Baroness Thatcher stood down as Prime Minister. The then Prime Minister's Press Secretary, Bernard Ingham, elbowed Sergeant out of the way to ensure that he was unable to get the scoop on whether her departure from office was imminent. The fact that Sergeant’s cameras were pointing the wrong way and missed the shot of the Prime Minister emerging from a meeting was also a key element of the broadcast’s popularity. Sergeant went on to cover stories in more than 25 countries, including Vietnam, Cyprus and Israel and also regularly reported from Northern Ireland (he reported the first British soldier killed during the Troubles). He has also been a correspondent in Washington, Paris and Dublin.

We are, as you can imagine, eagerly anticipating his eloquence and wit at this year’s BBPA awards! As you know, The BBPA Annual Dinner & Awards event brings together the leaders of the British brewing and pub sectors along with industry suppliers and stakeholders. Following on from last year’s success, this year’s awards look set to be highly competitive and given this year’s host the evening promises to be particularly entertaining.

If you are interested in sponsoring this event or booking a table, please contact Sophie McIntyre on 020 7627 9155, email or have a look online

Sophie McIntyre


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Happy birthday Wadworth 6X

On 29/05/13

Friday the 24th of May saw the celebration of the 90th birthday of Wadworth's flagship beer brand, 6X. The 'party' was held at Coopers' Hall in the City of London, a place steeped in brewing heritage, as displayed in the Hall’s museum. The casks made by the Coopers have carried beer to thirsty drinkers for centuries, some of which are still on display. Our host for the day was Wadworth's Chairman, Charles Bartholomew, the great-grandson of the company's founder, Henry Wadworth.

For the occasion, Head Brewer, Brian Yorston, delved into the brewing archives and recreated the original 6X recipe. Like many beers, the taste of 6X has evolved over the course of its history. As Brian explained, various external factors had caused these changes, most importantly the Second World War, which resulted in ingredient shortages and rationing.

Like all family brewers the company has a long and illustrious history, with a very strong local presence. And their flagship 6X has helped them to build a national presence in pubs and supermarkets. To enable competitive growth the company has had to invest and modernise, to be fit for the 21st century.

This ability to adapt is the key to success for Wadworth's and the other family brewers. They have invested heavily in technology within the brewery, cutting energy costs and carbon emissions. In 2009 a brand new copper house was installed, replacing kit dating back to 1885. These changes were made without affecting the quality and taste of the company’s brews. More recently the company has invested in a microbrewery on-site to develop new and innovative new beers, including the Beer Kitchen range.

The company has also invested heavily in their brands and pubs. A tie-up with Bath Rugby Club has boosted their regional presence and their pubs are highly regarded through the south of England.

Wadworth’s continued progression is a great example of how innovation helps to ensure that family brewers maintain and increase their unique appeal. The combination of longstanding heritage and traditional products with a modern forward-looking outlook is clearly a winning one, and is why us lucky Britons will continue to be able to celebrate many more beery birthdays in the years to come.


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Efficiency and environmental impact – what can members learn from Coca Cola

On 24/05/13 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

The brewing industry has made significant progress in tackling energy efficiency, water use and waste levels more generally. However, learning from other industries is a great way to gain ideas and inspiration. Eager to learn more, the BBPA Environment Panel, comprising environment and engineering specialists, held its latest meeting on-site at the Coca Cola Plant in Wakefield.

Coca-Cola Enterprises has a fantastic reputation for being one of the most forward-thinking and dynamic companies in the food and drink sector, and their plant in Wakefield is one of its flagship sites. The company has wisely invested in ultra efficient pieces of production equipment and has actively encouraged efficient practices amongst staff to reduce energy use and use machinery effectively. Staff are incentivised to take the issue of environmental impact seriously.

Since 2007, the plant has invested £51 million to improve speed and efficiency at the plant and has reaped the environmental rewards. In this period they have reduced water use by 10% and energy use by 16.5%.

Brewers were hugely impressed by the efficiency, health and safety procedures and generally excellent practices shown at the plant. The active staff engagement in the process of continual improvement of the plant’s environmental performance particularly stood out.

With a new BBPA Environmental Strategy for pubs and brewers under development, this visit provided a great opportunity to look at another industry which is leading the way in showcasing environmental best practice and learn some lessons to help with progress in our industry.

There were some key learnings that can be transferred into the brewing sector. Staff involvement, education and communication shone through as a critical, if challenging, objective. This applies throughout the workforce. Detailed and targeted monitoring of performance supports this and enables changes to be measured and celebrated. And investment, both large and small in scale, can play a big part (admittedly, not paying excise duty does give Coca-Cola a definite advantage in capital expenditure!).

This shows just how much can be learnt by getting out of the brewery and seeing what’s going on in other industries. Next stop for the Panel, Rolls Royce Aerospace!

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


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