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Pubs / 07 June 2022

Pubs supported through pandemic thanks to partnership model

The vast majority of publicans who received financial support from their pub company during the pandemic felt the support they received was fair, new research shows.  

Worth almost £360million across the sector, publicans expressing a 70% satisfaction rate with the fairness of the financial support provided and a 75% satisfaction rate with the transparency of how the level support was determined.   

In addition, publicans were also able to access non-financial support such as guidance around health and safety regulations, additional training and health & wellbeing initiatives, covid-specific signage and processes such as order and pay at table solutions and best practice advice on Government restrictions from their pub companies, with over half of recipients feeling this support also helped them and their businesses.  

The research, conducted by insight agency KAM Media, surveyed publicans of the six pub companies covered by the statutory Pubs Code and follows the release of results from the Pubs Code Adjudicator’s annual survey.   

The partnership model works by giving people across the country the opportunity to run their own pubs with the support and guidance from a pub company as their landlord.  Whilst several thousand hospitality businesses closed for good during the pandemic, the financial and wider support provided by pub companies large and small to their publicans enabled these pubs to re-open and continue to be at the heart of the communities they serve.    

Jackie Fairburn, a publican who runs the Hare & Hounds in Tingley outside Leeds said:  

When it came to things like furlough and government restrictions it was useful to be able to call up my pub company and talk to someone who knew more than I did about those things. I don’t need their help all the time because I have a vision for my pub, but when I do I know I can rely on them.” 

During the pandemic, alongside rent reductions, pub companies also supported publicans to upgrade outside spaces so they could continue to operate during periods of restrictions. 

Darren Paul, a publican who runs The Station in King’s Heath outside Birmingham and received such support said: 

“Partnering with my pub company gave me the confidence to take on my own pub. I get a lot of advice from them, day to day I’m focused on running the pub, so I really value my Operations Manager helping me to spot opportunities to invest and develop the Station to make it even better for our loyal customers.” 

Talking about how the Pubs Code has helped him in his experience of running his pub, he said:  

“The Pubs Code has helped me to understand that there is support and guidance available to tied tenants that are considering taking on a Tied Pub. Understanding the code has reassured me that there are rights in place to protect and enable tied tenants to successfully run a business.” 

Jason Smith, a publican who runs several pubs in West Yorkshire said:  

“Knowing the pubs code is there makes sure the big companies do the right thing. I would use the pubs code if I really needed it, but because it is there in the background, I don’t have to use it, the pub company does everything right and through it I have a good sound lease.” 

Fiona Dickie, the Pubs Code Adjudicator, who has responsibility for enforcing the statutory Pubs Code, which governs the relationship between large pub-owning businesses and their tied tenants in England and Wales, added:  

“It is encouraging to see the results of this research and to hear these tenants’ views of their pub company relationship, particularly how it is underpinned by their important Pubs Code rights.  

“Early in the pandemic I made it clear to the regulated pub companies that I expected them to be fair and transparent in their support for tied tenants. It is another example of the important ways the Pubs Code protects tied tenants and promotes fair business practice.”  

Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association Emma McClarkin said: “The pandemic really shone a light on the value of the partnership pub model, with publicans receiving discounted and waived rents and a range of other support and advice at a critical time, with cancelled rent alone averaging £28,000 per pub over the two-year period. 

“The model has always provided an opportunity for pub loving entrepreneurs to run their own pub and now as we come out of a testing two years we will continue to work as an industry to make sure it continues to work for both publicans and landlords.”  

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