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, (pictured) 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.
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 licensed trade.”