Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Green Shoots Of Pubco Defiance?

Having recently touched on the appeasement policy favoured by the drinks industry over Government-approved alcohol unitary intake, it seems I was exasperated at their combined lack of cynicism without being fully up-to-date. I should have checked the excellent Pub Curmudgeon blog first.

There’s an interesting interview with Tim Martin, head of J. D. Wetherspoon, in today’s Sunday Times. While I'm not a great lover of Wetherspoon’s pubs, you have to admire Tim Martin for defying the conventional wisdom of the industry, and it cannot be denied that the company has been very successful within an overall declining market. It is apparently poised to become Britain’s biggest pub chain in terms of sales value, if not number of outlets.

Also good to see him cocking a snook at the ludicrous official guidelines on safe drinking levels, rather than meekly going along with them like his counterparts in other companies:

How much? Probably about 40 alcoholic units a week, he says. He finishes most days with “a couple of pints of Abbot, a couple of glasses of wine”. He rails against the government’s 21-units-a-week dictum. “The doctor who came up with it said there’s no medical foundation to it; 70 to 80 units a week.” As a limit, or a recommendation? He laughs.

I'm with the Curmudgeon in not caring too much for JDW establishments, especially since Tim Martin was sucked in big-time by the anti-smoker hype, but in the drinks war against the clinically-obese Donaldson and his equally puritan chums, Alan 'Let's Boogie' Johnson and Dawn Prim'n'Proper, I'm right behind him.

To paraphrase a Not The Nine O'clock News joke about the Yanks in the world wars, perhaps he has realised he was late for the last battle, and wants to make sure he is nice and early for this one. Keep it up Tim.


Curmudgeon said...

To be fair(ish) to Tim Martin, once he realised that the premature roll-out of the smoking ban to his pubs was causing trade to fall off a cliff, he did suspend the policy until the actual ban came in.

I wonder to what extent the pub company bosses really did believe the hype that the ban would bring hordes of new, up-market customers into pubs, or whether they just felt it was best to keep their heads down.

Lester Taylor said...

I'm not a smoker, but having given in to that one the juggernaut of banning has gathered pace.

But it does not affect those in Westminster Palace. They will continue to smoke drink and stuff themselves in subsidised splendour.

"Do as I say and not as I do!" is now the two legged pigs' mantra.

Every law and guideline they issue MUST apply as rigorously to them as well as it does to the rest of us.

After all, that's what the separation of powers is all about. Isn't it?

banned said...

Good for Tim whose very first pub in Stroud Green was a local breath of fresh air from the Formica Arms.

Another green shoot of defiance ?
A couple of weeks ago ( well before the Severe Snow Event ) the Parking Permit Bays of a local road were coned off ( incl parked cars ); severe notices informed us that this was for re-lining and the consequences of failing to remove vehicles.
I had the day off work and emerged at about 10am to find at least half the cars still there. Upon my return I expected to see some hot removal/wailing action but things were exactly as before though a couple more cars had manouvered themselves behind the cones.

The cones were removed the following day without explanation and no tickets plastered upon the offending vehicles. My conclusion was that the residents were saying 'we don't care about your re-lining ' and the Council responding 'oh, alright then' and going away.