Author Archives: .

Scottish pubs bill would cost jobs and investment

On Trade 4.1 - with text.Still010

Responding to the announcement by the Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby that he will seek to introduce new legislation on the nation’s leased and tenanted pubs, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association has called for the MSP to ‘think again’.

If successful, the proposed legislation would remove opportunities for young entrepreneurs and stifle investment in the pub industry in Scotland. It would introduce a costly and inflexible statutory code of practice for just 17 per cent of Scotland’s pubs, when there is already an effective system of self-regulation to deal with disputes, which has been in place since July 2016.

Brian Davidson, President of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association said:

“We would strongly urge Neil Bibby to rethink this proposal and instead focus on helping to secure meaningful support for all 4,900 pubs in Scotland, not just the 17 per cent which the current bill is unfairly aimed at.

“Pubs are of vital importance to the Scottish economy and communities across the country, so we welcome that they are on the agenda at Holyrood. Our sector faces multiple challenges, and the support of politicians is essential to ensure the pub market remains vibrant and diverse, as it is today.

“However, we believe this Bill will do the opposite of what it sets out to achieve, and seeks to find a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

“Last year a comprehensive independent report by the Scottish Government found that no part of the pub sector in Scotland was unfairly disadvantaged over another. Any reform should be evidence-based, and evidence to back these proposed changes is noticeably absent. If successful, this bill will hurt small business owners, offer fewer choices for consumers and ultimately cost jobs.

“We believe further dialogue between trade bodies, government and other interested parties is now needed. We look forward to the forthcoming stakeholder meeting convened by the Minister to discuss these bill proposals in the round with other areas of real interest and concern to the industry at this time.”

A real Scottish pub success story is Kained Holdings, started in 2007 by three  friends – Scott Arnot, Graham Suttle & Mo Clark. In 2007, they opened Lebowskis in Finnieston with investment from a pub company. A decade later, they now employ over 170 staff across nine bars and restaurants.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Scott Arnot of Kained Holdings said:

“When Graham, Mo and I opened Lebowskis in 2007, it was with the help of a pub company and beer-tie agreement.  We were given an opportunity to try something new and we know that the investment we received could not have been replicated from other sources.

“The beer-tie arrangement has afforded myself and my partners opportunities to grow our business, support local communities and employ over 170 people.  We do realise that the model is not perfect.  However, this bill, while perhaps well-intended, is a threat to innovation and investment. It will see fewer opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovation in our Industry, and ultimately fewer Scottish success stories in the licenced trade.”


SBPA respond to MUP decision

BrigidHeroCommenting on the decision by the UK Supreme Court on Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), SBPA CEO Brigid Simmonds OBE said:

“The industry in Scotland has seen a number of regulative changes over the last decade and once again, we will now see another which will have a significant impact on how businesses operate. It is good to see that the Scottish Government intend a five year implementation period, with a review and unless action is taken to extend the policy, a Sunset clause comes into place in year six.

“The SBPA has always been concerned about imposing conditions which penalise responsible drinkers and there is no denying that this ruling will cause uncertainty, but what is important now, is that industry is given a break from any further blanket-regulations. This will also allow MUP to be properly assessed as a policy to reduce alcohol-related harm.

“The SBPA strongly supports policies and initiatives targeted at the minority of those who misuse alcohol and view this as the best way to reduce alcohol harm, without penalising responsible drinkers. We have been very active, with the removal of 1 billion units of alcohol from the UK market as well as raising unit awareness, providing consistent labelling and promoting lower strength products.

“In tackling alcohol related harm, it is education and awareness, through support for Drinkaware and other awareness programmes, alongside partnership working, between industry, local communities, police and the public health authorities that delivers the most effective results.”

SBPA welcomes Barclay review but calls for further action

On Trade 4.1 - with text.Still010

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), has responded to the conclusion of the Barclay Review into business rates saying the proposals do not go far enough and greater support for the pub industry is still needed.

The SBPA also revealed their analysis showing some astounding increases to the average rates bill over the next five years.

Commenting, SBPA President Brian Davidson said:

“The SBPA welcomes the conclusion of the Barclay review and its proposals which should improve the situation, however it still falls short of the reforms needed by our nation’s pubs.

“The introduction of a Business Growth Accelerator, expansion of the Fresh Start scheme, reduction of the Large Business Supplement and a review of the Small Business Scheme are all steps in the right direction and we would urge the Scottish Government to move forward as quickly as possible.

“However, there remains a need for a new approach for Scotland’s licensed premises which already suffer from a hugely unfair tax burden. While the 12.5% cap for the hospitality sector and the North East has shielded our sector this year, pub operators remain uncertain of what their bills will be moving forward and only have until the end of September to appeal.

“Furthermore, SBPA analysis of the 2017 revaluation shows that for many pubs, business rates remain a ticking time bomb with bills in the Lothians’ due to increase by 50.8%, 59.2% in Central Scotland and a massive 64.3% in Orkney and Shetland.

“These increases will be unsustainable for many pubs and underlines the need for more reform, particularly on how the hospitality sector is evaluated. We would urge the Scottish Government to move forward as quickly as possible and look at further support for our industry.”

SBPA comments on Labour support for Bibby Bill


Commenting on Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale’s support for Neil Bibby’s members bill, Brigid Simmonds Chief Executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said:

“We welcome Mr Bibby’s interest in the industry but this bill would actually do the opposite of what he is setting-out to achieve.

“The pub market in Scotland is completely different to other parts of the UK, with only 17% of pubs under a tied arrangement here, compared to 40% in the UK as a whole. It simply doesn’t work to compare like-for-like in this case. Furthermore, we have already put in place a system of self-regulation in Scotland which safeguards tenants.

“Second, tied-pubs offer greater choice of beers than pubs free-of-tie; while tied-pubs average ten draught lines, free-of-tie pubs only offer eight and tied-pubs offer double the amount of cask ale.

“Finally, the tied-pub models offers unrivaled entrepreneurship opportunities, jobs and investment. In the last two years alone £20 million has been spent by pub companies and brewers investing in pubs in Scotland.

“If successful, this bill will hurt small business owners, offer fewer choices for consumers and ultimately cost jobs.

“We would therefore urge Scottish Labour to rethink their support for these ill-conceived plans and instead pressure the government into meaningful action to support Scotland’s pubs.”