The Alma Inn is an Enterprise Inns owned pub located in the Stoke Newington area of London.  It is one of those classic victorian buildings with nooks and crannies everywhere in the public areas and has been kept faithful to it roots with a few modern touches, unlike many pub company premises which adhere to a standardised design. For 12 years it has been operated by Kirsty Valentine who turned it from a pub people used to avoid into a popular and commercially successful pub well known for its good food, good beer and wide range of ciders.   Since she came into the area, it has become a home to many more good pubs and now is a destination for drinkers in its own right.

Enterprise are delighted with this pub, they are getting good beer orders and the rent is paid regularly, Kirsty is being supported by her regional manager and touted as an example of how an Enterprise Inns tavern should be ran.  In truth Enterprise had never really supported Ms Valentine, when she won the accolade North London CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year in 2013, they soon limited her to two core ciders (down from a regular choice of 6) from their range apart from the Annual Cider Festival held at the pub when she can sell 20 or more. The pub company totally ignored the fact that their cider reputation was growing the business.

Last week, she was evicted by bailiffs after long running dispute and subsequent court battle between herself and Enterprise.  This stems from a rent review back in 2007, where she claimed that Enterprise said that a net £4500 per year would be set off from her rent in lieu of the £90,000 she had invested in the property to bring it up to standards. .Enterprise Inns denied this and stated that there was an “Anti Set Off” clause in her tied tenancy contract which meant that any investment in the premises does not need to be taken into account when setting the final rent.  The judge in the case ruled that the language of the contract signed by Kirsty was clear in that she had to pay rent without any set off.  As a result of this difference of interpretation of the 2007 review and the decision by the judge, Kirsty was now in significant rent arrears according to Enterprise to the tune of at least £15-20,000.  Enterprise started proceedings to remove her from the property for non payment.

At the 11th hour, Kirsty and regular customers managed to raise the money in under 12 hours to clear the debt to Enterprise Inns, however Enterprise were clear that no deal could be done, and Ms Valentine was to leave.  So one Friday morning the bailiff, locksmith and company who will seal up the premises all turn up with backup from the police and are faced with a pub full of drinkers.  The crowd are genial and after discussion between Kirsty and the Bailiff it was agreed that the premises would be vacated.  However this is not the end of matter, news has come out that Enterprise have reneged on a agreement to let her remove her personal belongings and are also removing good not belonging to either themselves or Ms Valentine and have been reported to the police for theft.

Enterprise Inns say they want to re-open the pub as soon as possible with a new tenant, but there are doubts about this intention as it could easily be sold for a substantial sum to a supermarket for conversion without need to planning consent or to developer who could then apply to convert to flat.  To stop this campaigners are trying to get the building listed as an Asset of Community Value to give them time to purchase the property within the 6 month protection granted to those who attain this status.  Even if they do re-open it, they have antagonised most of the customers already and the new manager will struggle to make a living.   Enterprise knew this when they refused to settle with Kirsty and it shows their true intentions for the building, ie – to be sold off to repay a small part of their huge debt.

Enterprise Inns not only charge a high dry rent, but the overheads on supplied beer creates an effective wet rent with some products costing nearly double that on the open market.  Their attitude to tenants make the mafia look friendly, If profits dip, pay the rent, if you make more profit then give us our cut, can’t pay up, then get out.   At least the mafia make this totally clear to the businesses they give protection to.  Enterprise pretend to be your friends first then stab you in the back.

  1. seymour says:

    So typical of the bully-boy, devious and criminal tactics employed by these crooks. Rotten from the top down! https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Truth-about-Enterprise-Inns-and-the-way-they-do-business/191948240885997?ref=hl