Written evidence by Adam Robertson (SB 56)


My remarks focus on Part 4 of the Bill which proposes a Statutory Code for the regulation of the tied pub sector. The measures are welcome and will help to correct years of abusive and anti-competitive practice by a small number of rogue companies. They are proportionate. However, the key aspect which would give the Bill the power it needs to root out the widely-documented abuses by the rogue pub companies – the Market Rent Only [MRO] option – is missing, and without it the Bill can never be as effective as it should be.


1. My name is Adam Robertson and until recently I was a tied publican along with my fiancée Hailey Gammage. We ran a pub called The Eldon Arms which is based in Reading, Berkshire and tied to a brewery called Wadworths who are based in Devizes, Wiltshire.

2. The bill is trying to stop companies like Enterprise Inns and Punch charging unfair amounts of rent and on beer to landlords but unfortunately smaller family brewers like Wadworths have caught on to their way of doing things and are doing exactly the same.

3. We were being charged a rent that was one fifth of our turnover which doesn’t sound like excessive but when accompanied with a tie on all wet products that were nearly double normal market value. This tie was worth an extra £30,000 per annum on top of the free of tie buying price. This again does not seem a lot but when the turnover of the business is £125,000, you have £25,000 for rent and £70,000 for wet goods, leaving £30,000 to pay all other bills and then try to take a wage from as well.

4. As stated above we were nearly paying double for a keg of lager or barrel of ale compared to our free of tie counterparts. Allowing a price war that we could not compete in, it would have been cheaper for us to walk to a Weatherspoon’s pub, buy the drink at retail and then walk it back to our pub and serve it to our customers. On top of this we had a very limited selection of what products we could stock which again hampered the business.

5. The business for us was unviable no matter how much hard work we put into it, however if a MRO had been available this pub that is an asset of the community would have prospered with a wide selection of products available at half the price.

6. Due to the above I implore you to include the MRO option to allow small businesses to flourish instead of being stripped of any possible profits by large companies. Without this I am fairly certain you may as well not bother with the bill as it will be nigh on useless to stop this continuing trend of pub companies extorting large amounts of money from people trying to make a living.

October 2014

Prepared 31st October 2014