During PUB17 at Olympia London last month, I sat on a discussion panel with Kate Nicholls of the ALMR, Brigid Simmonds of the BBPA, Anthony Pender of the BII and Tim Page of CAMRA.
With the industry facing a number of headwinds such as business rates increases, of which the ALMR is leading a campaign against, rising National Living Wage, the Apprenticeship Levy and inflationary pressures due to the fall in the pound sterling, it was encouraging to hear so many positive voices from experts, operators and advisers alike over the course of the few days.
One particularly hot topic, and one which we’re expecting to heat up even more over the coming months, was the Assets of Community Value (ACV) regulation and what effect this is having on the pub industry. Tim Page was tackled over CAMRA’s approach to pub closures and the effect on publicans that the ACV “blanket” listings have had in some regions. As CAMRA is widely known for being pro-ACV, he surprisingly agreed: an alternative solution needs to be sought to prevent further fallout in the sector and he is currently working with MPs to find a sensible alternative, plus amendments to the Neighbourhood Bill which is currently going through parliament.
Tim Martin of JD Wetherspoon gave his views on Brexit, beer duty and how he keeps his chain of 900 pubs on track and multi-site operators such as Victoria Whittington of Livelyhood Pubs and James Cuthbertson at Dark Star gave great advice on how to grow from one pub to eight without making too many mistakes. It was also interesting to hear from Dan Shotton of Redcomb Pubs that his first four sites were a learning curve and even included one site he wished he hadn’t bought at all. Mark Robson of Red Mist suggested that a tied lease can very often be the best way to start out as a pub operator, as a Pubco can provide support and advice in the early years which can be critical to your success going forward.
As we continue to seek new ways to help buyers and sellers of pub and restaurant businesses, we are now out seeing over 20 businesses who are looking to come to market and advising many more on matters such as valuations, insurance and finance as a result of PUB17. I am sure the industry will continue to find innovative ways to get more people out and into pubs in the years to come and we look forward to hearing about the journeys and plans of more new and existing clients next year.