Pub Companies - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents


Supplementary written evidence submitted by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR)

Following the oral evidence session held on 7 July as part of the above inquiry, the ALMR has been asked to provide further information on the content, coverage and dissemination of its Benchmarking Survey results. We are pleased to do so and should be happy to meet to discuss the findings in more detail as required.

The ALMR's Benchmarking Survey is now in its fifth year and provides an annual assessment of common operating costs incurred at a site level, as well as valuable information on business performance and the composition of the market. Information is collected from individual and multiple lessees but is always presented at individual outlet, not company level.

The survey was initially designed to assist operators in the management of their own business - how well were they performing in comparison to the rest of the market, how good are they at controlling their costs. It was also designed to assist them in making commercial decisions about their style of operation - if they wanted to provide more food, what impact would this have on their investment and cost levels. In designing the survey we were also keen to use it as a vehicle to collect data needed to inform the ALMR's campaigning activities and information which is of value to government and other external stakeholders. The Benchmarking Survey results are used in submissions on live music regulation, gaming machine taxation and National Minimum Wage.

The data is therefore collected for a variety of purposes and has many uses over and above its role in rental calculation and valuation purposes. The data therefore not only has a cost to the ALMR, it has a value to the organisation.

COST OF PRODUCTION

The Committee asked for information on how much it cost to produce the Survey on an annual basis. The 2011 survey cost us £5,000 to run and publish. The average production cost over the five year history of the survey has been £6,100. These costs may rise if companies and other parties wish to see the information presented differently or to accommodate suggestions of banding according to turnover.

At the present point in time, the Association does not have sufficient resources to fund this and make the full results freely available. For this reason, we make a nominal charge to cover costs for a copy of the full report. This was precisely why we made the offer to the predecessor Committee in December 2009 to gift the survey. This would have seen all parties funding the collection, collation and interpretation of data and enabled wider dissemination. Unfortunately, preliminary discussions with RICS and others, as well as an initial approach to BBPA suggested that this would not be feasible. If the ALMR had not continued to underwrite and bear the costs, the survey would not have been maintained going forward.

DISSEMINATION OF RESULTS

We understand that there has been some discussion about how the results of the ALMR Benchmarking Survey are made available to individual lessees and how this could be improved.

A full copy of the survey is made available free of charge to all lessees who participate in the exercise. This is used to encourage and reward participation and is common practice with other industry surveys. A copy of the headline results and the key charts is also made freely available through the ALMR website. The information which is freely available has been enhanced as part of this survey round and we believe provides a sufficient level of detail for a benchmark comparison to be made. We make available free of charge the information we believe of benefit to the majority of individual lessees and will continue to look at ways in which this can be improved. I have attached a copy of the information which is freely available through our website.[5]

We have offered to have discussions with BII and BBPA as to how this information can be disseminated through their publications and members, but this has been inconclusive.

To date, the ALMR has restricted publication of the full results to those paying for them. This is in part to recoup some of the costs of publication but also because few individual lessees will want to receive the detailed breakdown of information the full report provides. The detailed charts and tables are invaluable for those making a rental valuation and the professionals who would be advising the lessee in rent review negotiations. In our experience, access to the detailed information by BDMs trade valuers and professional advisers is far more important than access for individual lessees. It is this which remains a key point of concern.

In view of the fact that the information has a value to the Association as well as a production cost, we charge a nominal amount to non-participants - currently £20 for individual lessees and ALMR members and £50 for non-member operators - and £100 for landlords, industry analysts, commentators and other organisations such as law firms, banks. This cost only applies to those who want and can make use of a copy of the full 60 page report and detailed tables. We repeat that we believe that the information currently made freely available is sufficient for everyday comparison and benchmarking use by individual lessees.

This is a small cost and one which we are committed to reducing where possible. It should be viewed in context of the level of information which is freely and readily available and the use to which an individual lessee, as opposed to their professional adviser, may put it.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

Our intention is to continue to improve the collection and dissemination of information in this area. We are currently in discussion with a number of commercial parties to explore how we could work with them to underwrite the costs.

In addition, we have recently had a meeting with Punch Taverns to discuss the survey and how best to work with them to disseminate the results amongst their BDMs and lessees. They have expressed strong support for an independent or lessee produced database on operating costs and we are actively exploring ways in which they could provide a degree of funding to assist in dissemination. For example, they could pay a one off fee on behalf of all their lessees.

We are hoping to have similar discussions with other pub companies and centrally with BBPA and will keep the Committee updated on any material developments.

We should be happy to provide any additional information on any aspect of the survey and our work.

Kate Nicholls

Strategic Affairs Director

31 July 2011



5   http://www.almr.org.uk/hotpdfs/143.pdf Back


 
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