Manchester night economy adviser Sacha Lord is taking up the future of historic The Britons Protection pub with Mayor Andy Burnham. Lord said he was “very concerned” about plans by the building’s owners, Star Pubs & Bars, to bring the pub back into its “managed portfolio”.
It would mean the iconic Manchester pub, which sells more than 360 whiskies and offers a range of real ales, could only buy its stock from distributors approved by brewing giant Heineken, owner of Star Pubs & Bars.
Such a move would make the Brits “unrecognizable”, owner Allan Hudd told the Manchester Evening News. It comes after the landlords of Britons said they had paid in full all back rent demanded by Star Pubs which had accrued while it was closed during the lockdown.
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Pubs that are part of the company’s managed portfolio do not pay rent to Star Pubs, but instead work on a revenue and profit sharing agreement rather than a rental agreement. But as rent payments at the Brits, who operated under a ‘market rent only’ deal, were postponed, they paid £160,000 back in full, despite not being allowed to to redeem during lockdown.
After reimbursing the sum, the pub says it then received what is known as a ‘hostile Section 25 notice’ from Star, informing them of its intention to terminate its lease and bring back the pub under Star’s control.
“I am very concerned to hear of the current situation at The Britons Protection, not least because it is a clear demonstration of the power that parent chains can wield over their unannounced tenants,” Lord said.
“Premises were still being charged in full despite Covid-enforced nationwide closures in the hospitality sector, and have only recently paid over £160,000 in deferred rent payments, at a time when the industry has already struggling to recover, so it’s disappointing to hear that only weeks later the owners received this unfriendly review.
“I have spoken to the owners at length and will discuss the situation with Andy Burnham to see how and where we can provide support in this matter.”
Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, had also helped Hudd and pub owner Mark West, who also owns the City Arms, negotiate with Heineken to retain its previous market-only lease deal with the brewery, rather than take the pub into the managed portfolio, a move that Hudd said would not fit with the pub’s business philosophy.
She told the Manchester Evening News: “I am very disappointed with Heineken’s conduct. I understand that breweries and business owners, like Heineken in this case, have also been under a lot of pressure during the pandemic, but I expected everyone to cut their hair a bit.
“They gave big discounts to pubs who remained pub company tenants, but didn’t give much discounts at all to their commercial tenants, who had opted out of being tied tenants. As I made clear to them in meetings and discussions during Covid, I expected more from Heineken in this context, and that more slack would have been given to some of their tenants.
Hudd said: “The BP is known for having 360 whiskeys, it’s one of our biggest draws and the reason people come to the BP. If I have to buy all my whiskey through Heineken, there are about 15 on their books.
“They’re not going to start working with the local wholesalers that I use, or the wholesalers in Scotland that I use. Imagine walking into the pub and not seeing all those whiskeys there?
“I don’t see Heineken opening accounts and working with all of these people for the good of a unit. Thus, the USP whiskey will disappear. With draft beer, Heineken does not work with local breweries, as it is a massive chain.
“Again, you walk in and there won’t be any local beer because they’re not going to start working with local breweries for the sake of a site. So the two main attractions that bring people to my pub are going to disappear. »
Owner Mark West added: ‘This pub needs passion and someone who can invest in the passion for what the British are all about. The institution. I’m a keeper of this place, if there aren’t people fighting for the challenge and the cause of the Brits, and this turns into a generic run house, it won’t be able to sustain what is the fabric of this site.”
The pub has since appealed to the public for support on the matter and launched crowdfunding, hoping to raise £5,000 to challenge the decision in court. The pub owner has also commissioned law firm Pannone Corporate to investigate his options.
A spokesman for Pannone said: ‘I can confirm that I am appointed by Mark West, the tenant of Briton’s Protection. Mr West is seeking to renew his lease, which his owner Punch Partnerships (PTL) Limited, which is part of the Heineken group, is opposed to.
“Mr West is very committed to his business, the unique offering it brings to the Manchester market and its loyal customers. He intends to assert his legal right to renew his lease on the most favorable terms. solid.
In a previous statement, Star Pubs & Bars said: “Britons Protection is a beautiful, historic Manchester pub that attracts both locals who love real ale and visitors who want to experience a great traditional British Mancunian pub.
“We believe in its future and, now that the lease is coming to an end, we believe it is the perfect opportunity to review how the pub will be operated in the future to ensure its long term sustainability.
“Britons Protection is the perfect fit for our Just Add Talent model, and we plan to grow the current offering whilst continuing to support the pub’s historic status and maintaining its focus on serving an exciting range of real ales and ciders.”
A representative for Star Pubs today said he had no further comment on the matter.
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