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  • The Clink Restaurant at Brixton Prison

    Brigid Simmonds | 12 June 2018

    This week I had the pleasure of going to a prison in Brixton to lunch with Clink, the charity set up to train offenders in hospitality who are within six to eighteen months of finishing their sentences. Clink run four restaurants in Brixton, Cardiff, High Down and Styal and they also have a presence in 7 prisons, where they operate bakeries and gardens, growing produce for their prisons and even keeping chickens! I was first introduced to Chris Moore, CEO of Clink, by Paul Hegarty at the Publican Awards this year, and I very much believe that as part of our outreach to employ more UK nationals, the Clink would be a very good partner for many in our industry. The facts speak for themselves. There are 84,000 prisoners in the UK, but only 4,000 are women.  49.6% of prisoners re-offend, but for those who come out with Clink’s hospitality training, that is cut to just 8%. I visited the Brixton Clink restaurant, which requires you to leave your belongings in a locker and go through full security before entering the restaurant. Whilst this may be an unconventional dining experience, the food itself was excellent and the surroundings and décor were just like that of a high end restaurant. There was no alcohol and you have to eat with plastic knives and forks, but the standards of service and presentation of the food are superb. The Clink trains chefs and front of house staff up to NVQ Level 2. They also prepare them for the world of work and life after prison. When you leave prison, there is no requirement to have somewhere to stay. You are let out with £40 and the rest is up to you. With the Clink, ex-offenders are not only ‘work ready’, but they are looked after in the community. So, what can our industry do to help Clink? Whilst they are a charity looking for donations, they are also looking for offers of work. If there is accommodation to go with it, so much the better. This is where our industry can really help. Clink are clear that they do all the necessary checks, and they will give you all the information about an ex-offender you are looking to employ. Most importantly of all, they firmly believe that many of their ex-offenders will be exceptionally loyal to their new employers for many years. Why? Because they have been offered a second chance. For more information on Clink and how your organisation can support them, visit their website here.

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  • BII Licensee of the Year

    Brigid Simmonds | 12 June 2018

    Once again, I had the privilege this year of judging The British Institute of Innkeeping’s (BII) Licensee of the Year award, an inspiring competition for every licensee in the industry. The quality in the competition this year was extremely high. 250 entrants were whittled down to 50 who received mystery customer visits.  From there, the remaining 12 entrants faced a tough round of individual interviews including Sue Allen of the BII and Ashley and Kelly McCarty of the Olde Sun Inn at Colton near York. The Chairman of the BII and three trustees picked the final six, who were then put through their paces in front of an industry panel, which included me. The final six were all very impressive and inspiring. We saw: Marc Duvauchelle, a proud Frenchman who manages the Old Customs House at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth. Marc has a background as a restauranteur and has already won the Fullers Griffin Trophy and features on the new Gunwhalf Keys television advertisement as a key attraction. His philosophy is about quality, whether it be an order for pint of Pride, a chateaubriand or pie and mash; they all have to be exceptional. Using chalk boards to advertise his best expensive dish often leads to it selling out within an hour!  One of his greatest frustrations is the effect of the British weather on sales. Lee & Kerris De Villiers, licensees originally from South Africa, who operate the Pig and Whistle pub owned by Ram Pubs (Youngs) in Wandsworth. They have benefitted from investment which has transformed the look and feel of their pub, helping them to grow their business by 25%. Their new marketing plan includes a Tequila cabinet (which they operate free of tie) and a cabinet with chilli sauce from all over the world. Their support and sponsorship of a South African rugby team has also paid dividends in terms of numbers of customers and revenue. Their major concern is increased business rates and how this makes their Sky subscription more expensive too. Kim Barker, who runs the Ship Inn, a tenancy owned by St Austell in Pentewan, Cornwall.Operating a pub in a village with many holiday homes, Kim has used events such as bingo, quiz nights and even a beer festival to attract people to her pub. As she says, you don’t have to be local to be treated as one and that certainly rings true, as after ten years of running the pub she decided to have a party with many of the ‘seasonal locals’ coming down to celebrate in November. Chris Norfolk, a chef by background who runs a Punch pub near Worksop in Derbyshire, the most northerly pub to enter the competition this year. In his entry Chris noted how he runs ‘a proper country pub’ featuring muddy boots, horses, dogs and shooting. He has ran hotels and large branded pubs in the past, but is clear that his pub is not restaurant in disguise. As he says himself – “we are pub serving good food, sourced locally and made by me and my team.” Training is key to his mode of operation and his major concern is control of electricity costs. Mark Shaw is the owner of the Castle Inn at Castle Donnington, Leicestershire. Once a closed pub bought some years ago from Punch, Mark has grown the Castle Inn from a zero-turnover business to a thriving pub complete with a restaurant, bar and wood fired pizza oven. The latter of which can cover their costs quite quickly, but do not take up too much space and work particularly well for community pubs. Alex and Tanya Williams, tenants at the Polgooth Inn near St Austell. Alex and Tanya have developed their garden (which is not far from the Lost Gardens of Heligan), specifically to grow produce for their pub. It has been a huge success so far growing cucumbers, fresh herbs and fruit which have all been used in their kitchen. There were infrastructure costs to create it, but it now very much pays its way. A great way Alex and Tanya encourage families to come to their pub is to run pasta courses for children in the winter months. The courses themselves are not-for-profit, but they result in more regular customers. A pub at the heart of their community, Alex and Tanya managed to persuade all 140 properties in their village to display Christmas lights!  Whilst they think about whether they might, with the help of St Austell, extend their kitchen, they have decided to invest in a pizza trailer to test demand. Their greatest challenge is to recruit and retain staff who understand the benefits of a career in our industry. During the panel sessions I found it particularly interesting to see what the finalists saw as their biggest challenges. All the finalists listed finding pub chefs as a real challenge, although they had a variety of ways of trying to solve this, such as providing accommodation and offering courses like ‘game in a day’ and sausage making. No one felt that the National Living Wage helped staff retention; almost all had to pay more to keep good staff, but as they are all excellent licensees, good training and support achieved loyalty and longer service for a good length of time. Business Rates were also a key theme and there was huge support for anything that could be done to reduce the very high costs faced by our sector. Quite rightly Alex and Tanya were crowned BII Licensee of the Year. I interviewed them both at a conference a couple of years ago, delightful, full of energy and welcoming, they thoroughly deserve the award and I am sure they will be great advocates for our industry, as well as the BII. I am also very honoured to have been made a Companion Member of the BII. It is a great organisation for individual licensees and one that the BBPA is very keen to support.

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  • BBPA new website is now live - introduction

    Paul Oakley | 16 April 2018

    We are delighted to announce the launch of our new website! We hope you agree the new look is a small improvement on what we were sporting previously. The best news is that we have created a much more navigable website. This means that whether you are a BBPA member, a publican or simply a member of the public interested in beer and pubs all our wonderful news, campaigns, statistics and guidance is right at your fingertips. We also want to update you on several brand-new website features. Some of these are open to everyone but a fair few are exclusively for our members. If you are a BBPA member, make sure you have your log-in information to enjoy all the benefits. We will now run through each section of the website to ensure you can maximise your enjoyment of the new website and make use of the new features. KEY FEATURES/SECTIONS News We’ve kept our News section simple. Using the search function, you can toggle articles and blogs or search by topic with ease. All of our latest and most popular news is highlighted so there’s no reason not to keep up with all the latest goings on in the industry. About In the About section you can learn all about the rich history of the BBPA. You can also see what we’ve been up to lately and how to get in touch with the whole team. Our Passion We are passionate about beer and pubs. In this section you can read all about the industry, from the history of pubs, to how beer is made or articles on working in the industry. Take some time to have a read and become beer and pub experts, just like us! Members Our members are at the heart of everything we do so we want show off who we represent in a great new format. Here, all our members and associate members have a profile, a short introduction and links to their website. The Licensee Forum is new to the website. Free guidance is available to all licensed premises, ranging from advice on health and safety to responsible retailing. The contact box is for those interested in joining the forum, as well as giving you the opportunity to ask us any queries. Campaigning Campaigning is a huge part of what we do at the BBPA. The new campaign section lists all the campaigns which we are currently working on, discussing why we are doing them, and gives you guidance on how you can get involved. Policy We cover a wide range of issues and over the years have produced a lot of content. To help you get to the information you need we have organised our policies by topic. Simply click through to the Policy Area you are interested in and get lost in the BBPA policy team’s fountain of knowledge. Export Hub The Export Hub is a one stop shop for all things exports. You can easily download our Export Strategy and Best Practice Guide. We have also built an Export Showcase. This features brewers dedicated to promoting British Beers abroad and we will work with Government and others to signpost international buyers to this page. We want to grow this over time and hope all our members get involved, so any members who want to be showcased on this section should get in contact via the contact form on the page. We have also launched our new Country Profiles page. We have been working hard researching all the different regulation and labelling requirements of key markets. If you’re trying to get involved in this market we are sure the information on these pages will be invaluable to you. However, this section is restricted to our members. Statistics We work closely with our members and keep up to date with the latest insights to ensure we have industry-leading statistics. We have produced all-new charts detailing the key facts and figures. Explore beer sales over time, see how many pubs there are in the UK, and gain insight into the latest stats on exports. This section comes with additional benefits for our members; simply log in to access a wider range of data than the public view. Shop We have updated our shop. Our products should be much easier to find and we have a new speedy checkout. All this means it is even easier for you purchase what you need. Statistical Handbooks, guidance on CO2 in Cellars, Energy Best Practice…you name it, we have it. Members’ Area Members now have a bespoke new area which will also make it much easier if you sit on any of our panels or expert groups, or indeed would like to get involved with them. Here you can find policy position papers, parliamentary briefings, industry updates, technical circulars, as well meeting minutes and agendas.  Additionally, a new diary of upcoming events means you need never miss another meeting. What now? There’s still lots to do! You will notice throughout the website we have inserted feedback forms. We want to hear from you on any issues and we want you to share your knowledge and experiences, as well as recommend any improvements. One thing we have learnt from this project is that you can never have enough photos! So if you have any photos of beautiful pubs, the wonderful people involved in the industry or pictures of delicious beers then we want them! Please email Lastly... A big thank-you to Lighthouse London who have done a great job on the website. Check out their own website to learn more about their design, development and digital strategy expertise.

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  • BBPA blog - Access Champions Event

    David Wilson | 26 February 2018

    This week I attended an inspirational first anniversary event hosted by Minister for Disabled People Sarah Newton MP. The gathering of sector champions – initially welcomed by the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey MP - across a range of business sectors was an opportunity for industry to share best practice, inspire further action to promote accessibility and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and for the Minister to challenge us all to do more to ensure we are not losing business by failing to accommodate consumers with health conditions. For tourism and hospitality, Chris Veitch is our champion and he paid tribute to the BBPA for our work in sharing best practice through our Accessible Pubs Guide. He singled us out as a membership organisation which has shown leadership within hospitality on this important issue. Accessibility is good for business – as the retail, advertising and live music sector champions reaffirmed in their challenging presentations. Within tourism and hospitality we estimate people with health conditions – and their friends and families – spend £12 billion annually on tourism in England alone so it is vital that pubs are geared up to benefit from what is dubbed the purple pound. Raising awareness of hidden disabilities through effective staff training, demonstrating corporate leadership in recruitment and staff development, and offering excellent service to all customers regardless of their disabilities were common themes our sector would do well to emulate. As the Minister reminded us, every small change makes a difference and business leadership is critical to sharing best practice and driving innovation.  

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  • Drinkaware goes to Derby

    Brigid Simmonds | 06 February 2018

    I was delighted when Drinkaware invited me to go to watch Derby County against Brentford, not least because I had not visited Pride Park, but also to see in action the activities of DrinkAware as a preferred partner for the football club and exactly how this worked. With my background at Leicester City, I have always understood and been a strong supporter of outreach offered by football club community teams; there is nothing more obvious than harnessing the pride and interest of everyone in a city who loves football and look to change behaviour. It turns out that Derby has a higher rate of inactivity than many other cities in the UK and lower mortality rates too; an obvious target for action to improve activity, reduce weight and as ever in Drinkaware terms, ‘drink a little less and feel a lot better’.   I have always believed that sport reflects and unites communities and those who watch comes from all walks of life. I was helped to find by way from the station to the stadium by a young man who was a steward. He was looking to join the army but his recruitment had been delayed, so in freezing temperatures and rain he turned up for every home fixture and when he was not at Derby he travelled to other clubs to volunteer his services. Thus the power of sport.   Derby County Community Trust receives funds from Sport England to encourage greater physical activity. They take on those who are referred to them by doctors, often recovering from heart and injury problems, in need of weight loss and looking for social interaction. These are often men over 45, from lower income groups, but keen to engage with sport and adopt lifestyle change. They run walking football competitions, which we had hoped to see at half time on the pitch, (with the players wearing Drinkaware vests), but it was just too wet, but it was great to see the Drinkaware logo on the advertising hoardings round the ground and to meet the local Police and Crime Commissioner; Hardya Dhindsa who is keen to meet and work with the industry. Derby is one of the 22 Local Authority Alcohol Action Areas. They are working with the LAAA introducing Drinkaware Crew to reduce harm to young adults and training venue staff in the city to recognise vulnerability and the risks associated with heavy drinking.   At the Game, Drinkaware launched ‘Game Changer’, volunteers moved amongst the fans and were asked to choose from four ‘game changing’ moments from Derby’s footballing history. It is also on the Derby County website. There is also an invite to visit and may over time allow them to identify specific Derby wards where action is most needed. Everyone at the game were given hand warmers, sponsored by Marstons (who also supply beer to the ground), it was a great initiative; fun, but with some important messaging.   And not to forget the football, Derby won 3 – 0. It did not help Brentford that a player was sent off after 20 minutes! So hopefully some happy fans who will have an incentive to look at their lifestyle and how it might be improved. Thank you Drinkaware; a really good initiative which all of us should support.

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  • Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020

    Brigid Simmonds | 29 January 2018

    Last year I was asked to provide a quote for a report being carried out by PWC and Korn Ferry looking at diversity and in particular women who work in our sector. I commented that whilst 53% of those who work in pubs are women and companies like Fullers have a female head brewer, we need to build on our successes if we are to see more women reach the top. Last week I attended the launch of the report; a link can be found here and it provides for some fascinating reading and an opportunity to sign up to the ‘Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Charter’ to help companies make a real contribution to this agenda. The report acknowledges that much progress has been made, but with an aim of achieving 33 percent female representation across boards and executive committees by 2020 there is much to do. There are very few female role models in CEOs and Chairman across the sector. There is a greater representation of women in HR, rather than commercial and finance and some small to medium sized businesses do not think there is an issue with gender imbalance, nor regard it as a priority. The sector attracts a high number of female graduates, but is not doing enough to retain them and this is partly because of a lack of flexibility in working conditions and support for women balancing careers and families who then need to be encouraged to come back into the business. Appointments from outside the sector have helped increase the pipeline, but few companies in the sector disclose their diversity and inclusion strategies. Recent McKinsey research has shown that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies like Sodexo who do have strategies, found from research across their 5,000 managers that the strategy increased employee engagement, improves favourable client opinion and that sites with gender-balanced management were 23% more likely to show consistent organic growth. A customer director for Wagamama is quoted as saying that she works for a new female CEO who insists on collaboration and communication amongst them and designs meetings and away-days that facilitate this. The result is a strong feeling of the team, but it also makes it easier to have difficult conversations. There are suggestions that women need to be more proactive in seeking out promotion and often lack confidence and there is clear recognition that it all starts from the top and the right attitude must permeate throughout the business. The report concludes that there are many places to start this journey, but that the most important is a vision and sense of urgency from leadership. Other sectors are agreeing formal strategies and policy and broadening public awareness about their strategy. It emerges that female graduates first priority in choosing who to work for are opportunities for career progression. There is much more besides from the value of mentoring to the power of networks. Definitely worth a read and perhaps some more thought…..

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