Pubpaper 579 – Landlords and Enterprise Inns

Posted: 28th October 2010 by admin in Pub Paper, Writing

Its been about a month since the Good Pub Guide 2010 came out, but there are still some interesting facts emerging from its compilation. You may recall I did an article a few weeks ago about what makes a good pub. One of the elements I highlighted was the landlord and staff who run the pub. A CAMRA press release earlier this month mentions the fact that 40% of customers who had been “disappointed” in the surveys which are the basis for the guide had mentioned poor customer service as a reason for that opinion. This lead to 381 pubs being excluded from the guide this year.

The survey highlighted the main reasons being unwelcoming and uncaring staff, with them being “surly, insulting or even aggressive” at the extreme. Other reasons included intrusive TV’s or music, and my personal bugbear “a poor choice of beer”. However lets take CAMRA’s flip side to this finding that “many favoured outlets owe their appeal almost entirely to the caring and welcoming personalities of their hard-working landlords and landladies”. I’m sure we don’t need to be told this, we have enough good examples in our area to prove the fact. I have covered this already recently, and I’m not going to bore you by repeating myself.

However a good landlord still may not be able to overcome the problems caused by an over controlling owner which leads me into the second story that I discovered this week is that Enterprise Inns seem to have been shedding pubs quite rapidly over the last couple of years (it raised £9m last week doing this). You may cheer this fact due to their famously restrictive purchasing restrictions they place on the tenants. However it is not all good news, any pub which is making money is being leased back for around 35 years, so sadly they will still control the supply of goods to the premises for a long time yet.

Enterprise Inns are the poster boys of bad PubCo practices. The repeated increases in rents and beer prices, the tight control of where landlords can buy their products and the lack of maintenance of some premises have all become well known. A nameless pub which was neglected by them to such an extent over the medium term that it had an 8ft long concrete slab upstairs which was discovered could have come down at any time over a public area. I’m sure the other large PubCo’s are not much better, but they seem to keep under the radar, something which Enterprise cannot do given its size. They suffer the same issue as BP did after the gulf spill, when there is an elephant in the room, you seem to ignore the dog sitting in the corner. I’m hoping to bring you an interview with some ex-Enterprise landlords in the next couple of months.

My local pub, an ex-Enterprise premise is re-opening at the end of this month, after an absence of 2 years. It’s going to be good to have a pub within 5 minutes walking distance again, and having seen the structural changes made to the building at the start of the refurbishment, I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product next week. The Cock and Bottle at Bank Top has had a turbulent few years, however the hard work put into the place by the owners should ensure stability going into the future. It was intended to have 3 real ale pubs on, 2 of which would be rotated. With the views looking down over Beacon Hill towards Hipperholme and further afield, it should be worth a visit.

However this opening is more than balanced out with the loss or sale of pubs recently in the Halifax area. According to, both the Orange Tree and the Royal Oak in Halifax centre went on the market. Its a pity about the Royal Oak, as this was a cracking real ale pub when it was the Tap and Spile in the early 2000s, and the Orange Tree, which despite being rough as dogs and never having the best beer selection in the world, always brought me back when I used to catch the bus and train for work. I don’t like to finish on a negative note, so it was good to see that several pubs have re-opened on the way to Hebden Bridge on the A646 after a rash of closures. Fingers crossed for their future.

  1. […] on an annual basis, not being helped by the recent increases in beer duty, cheap off sales and the greed of giant pub companies such as Enterprise […]