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I may hate what Enterprise Inns stand for and their practices, but they do provide people who appreciate real pubs with plenty of ammunition to fire at them. *Last week I tackled the topic of Ted Tuppen, one of the founders of the company, who has less business scruples than your average sink estate loan shark. *At least you know where you stand with the loan shark, either pay up or pay otherwise. *With Enterprise Inns things are a bit murkier when you agree to do business with them.
Brian Mannion runs and owns a pub in Kilburn, London called the Black Lion. *Under the deal agreed after Enterprise sold him the property and tie for £1.3 million, Enterprise lease the building for £80,000 per annum, which he in turn rents back from them for £50,000 per annum. **Being effectively paid up front £30,000 per year to run your pub before you sell a pint seems a good deal, but he also has to buy his draught beer and cider from Enterprise, with some of the list prices per barrel being 66% more than what he could pay under a freehold deal. **He previously purchased the freehold of another pub, this time from Punch, who put no restrictions in the conditions of sale, thus allowing him to operate at a reasonable margin with a free choice of beer.
Brian must have known of this condition of sale before he signed as Enterprise would not give away £30,000 without knowing they could make it back in profits on wet sales. *Given that he already owns 3 other pubs, we can assume he is clued up on contracts (and if his lawyer did not alert him to this then he deserves to be fired). *The rising extra draught beer costs from Enterprise are now giving him “no incentive” to sell the product. *In an unusual move, he is trying to avoid paying these excess prices by removing all draught from the premises and going bottled only, where he is free to buy from the best value supplier. **Enterprise had no comment on the situation, which is not like Ted Tuppen, who normally has plenty to say to tenants.
On the 1st of June, the last beer will be pulled through the pump and draught offerings will disappear after 800 years on the site. **I’m a massive fan of good draught beer, both lager and ale, but I am fully supportive of this move by Brian. *Where a contract does not allow you to trade effectively, then bending the rules as far as you can is a legitimate business tactic. *In this case he is exploiting the fact there probably isn’t a minimum order stipulated contractually, so although he has to buy his draught beer from Enterprise he also doesn’t have to buy any at all, the option he is taking.
He will lose some locals from this, of that there is no doubt, but there are plenty of bottle drinkers and the publicity from this move which has hit national and specialist press will do him no harm at all. *The higher prices forced on customers by him having to pass on the costs of purchase would probably do at least as much harm to his custom. *Bottled beer is no longer the poor relation, it can supply a very good range of different beers to suit all tastes, many of which are bottle conditioned. *It also allows a easy route to support local microbrewers on a sliding scale, allowing a small order to escalate to a more substantial one in reaction to public demand. *There is also the increased shelf life over draught beer. *Just look at the popularity of craft beer shops and bars now who sell a range of 100’s of bottles and real ale and craft beer fans are happy to buy pre-packed versions of their favourite brews regularly.
It will never replace a freshly poured pint in my personal opinion and in cases where I’ve had the same beer in both forms the freshly poured one wins every time, but given I do a lot of my drinking at home now, there is no reason not to be happy to drink strictly bottled brews on visits to such a place if they had the right selection and were kept correctly. *The best of luck to him, it would be nice to see Enterprise get a bloodied nose.