Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

Supplementary written evidence submitted by Punch Taverns plc (SB 83)

1. Introduction  

Punch Taverns plc (Punch) has been named in a number of the evidence statements to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill Committee from tenant representative bodies.

This supplemental written submission provides a response to some of those of unfounded claims regarding Punch.

2. Evidence Submitted by Mr Ron Piper and Miss E Piper (Formerly of the Sir John Barleycorn, Hitchin Herts. SG5 2JZ)  

Punch has not acted in the way highlighted within this submission and it also contains inaccuracies [1] .

2.1 Mr Piper occupied the Sir John Barleycorn Public House from 2003-2009 where upon he was declared bankrupt. The Sir John Barleycorn was then taken on by a Limited Company owned by Miss Piper and with Miss Piper as a guarantor, by agreement with all parties.

2.2 The tenant Limited Company was struck off in 2013. There was no legal tenant in place at this point. Punch allowed the Directors of the company to reinstate the Company. Punch requested that arrears of rent and other trading debt were paid off in a reasonable time frame and this was not forthcoming.

2.3 In 2014 the Limited Company had not pay rent for approximately 2 years. Through the court process a possession order was obtained. At various stages prior to the possession order Mr Piper and Miss Piper were offered a number of options to avoid this becoming a matter for the Courts. These offers were refused by Mr Piper and Miss Piper.

2.4 This submission is further flawed in a number of areas:

· Punch has signed up to the Industry Framework Code ("Code") and it is binding in all new lease agreements. Any tenant, prior to a dispute, can have a Deed of Variation to any historic lease which does not contain the Code necessary wording. This will ensure the Code is legally binding in all agreements.

· The submission also refers to actions that pre-date the Code commitments and then refers to these as a breach of the Code. This is wrong and incorrect.

3. Evidence submitted by Fair Pint – supplementary [2]  

There are a number of issues that require clarity in this submission regarding Parallel Rent Assessments (PRA).

3.1 Two fair pint members (Simon Clarke and David Morgan) were on the consultation committee which formulated the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) valuation guidance for Public Houses. They agreed with the guidance at that time, 2010.

3.2 The guidance, which was agreed by Fair Pint, states comparison of Tied and Free of Tie Pubs is ‘problematic’. In their submission Fair Pint state that ‘The PRA simply adds another column to an existing methodology’. This is misleading and not a true reflection of the professional opinion of the RICS, to which they are party

3.3 The Fair Pint submission requests both a Market Rent Option and a Parallel Rent Assessment. These are different requirements and the cost of which would involve the industry with further fees and complexity.

4. Evidence Submitted by Chris and Von Lindesay, The Sun Inn, Dunsfold, founders and coordinators of Punch Tenant Network [3]  

Punch has a number of concerns regarding inaccuracies and communication issues within the submission.

4.1 The organisation known as the Punch Tenant Network had not made direct contact with Punch despite being formed a number of years ago until the Bill Committee evidence session on 16th October 2014.

4.2 The rent dispute at the Sun Inn, Dunsfold was contested and the Independent Expert came within £1,500 of the figure offered by Punch.

4.3 The ‘Best Practise Example’ referred to in the submission is wrong.

4.3.1 When the rental assessment is completed wastage is always taken into account depending upon product mix and the length of the beer line. Punch has a specific description within its valuation model for beer wastage that the RICS surveyors follow.

4.3.2 Stock Takers and Accountants will use different methods to offset wastage and line cleaning against turnover, within the accounts.

5. Evidence submitted by Carol Ross [4]  

This submission contains an inaccuracy.

5.1 The evidence states that Punch changed Carol Ross’s lease. This could not have happened without her consent, or the Directors of the Limited Company owned by Carol Ross that occupy the Roscoe Head as tenants.

6. Conclusion  

Punch is committed to working with Government to ensure that a fair Pub Company and tenant relationship is workable within a legal framework.

Inevitably in a freehold ownership and tenant ownership there may be disputes. Punch is dedicated to the principle of fair and lawful dealing and working on a behaviour based approach to dispute resolution.

November 2014


[1] This submission is no longer on the Bill Committee’s web-site.

[2] This submission is not on the Bill Committee’s web-site.

[3] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmpublic/smallbusiness/memo/sb48.htm

[4] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmpublic/smallbusiness/memo/sb53.htm

Prepared 13th November 2014