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Tempus Fugit

Pubs closing

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I cannot understand why John, as a lawyer, is arguing that black is white on this. One red herring after another. It isn't fit for purpose? Well it was supposedly fit for purpose very recently after undergoing the "refurbishment" that ripped the character out of the place. What has changed since? Not a community hub? Again, it has been one in the recent past. Lots of regulars from Baldrine and Onchan congregated there and could again. Not viable? Well perhaps not for the brewery, but maybe that says more about the brewery than the premises. 50,000 other properties? So what? We are talking about this one. A traditional public house which has been a landmark between Douglas and Laxey, enjoyed by successive generations since a time that nobody can remember.

It flies in the face of natural justice that a private business can simply destroy any prospect of anybody else making a success of a public amenity for their own narrow, anti-competitive commercial self-interest. The building should be sold on the open market and, if somebody wants to have a go at running the pub there, the current owner should have absolutely no right to stop them trying to make a success of it, while at the same time providing a service and pleasure to the customers. It's crazy to think otherwise.

"I can't make this works so I'm going to stop everybody else from attempting it." Sorry. No. It isn't logical. It isn't fair. It isn't free enterprise. It's total cobblers.

Edited by woolley
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7 hours ago, woolley said:

I cannot understand why John, as a lawyer, is arguing that black is white on this. One red herring after another. It isn't fit for purpose? Well it was supposedly fit for purpose very recently after undergoing the "refurbishment" that ripped the character out of the place. What has changed since? Not a community hub? Again, it has been one in the recent past. Lots of regulars from Baldrine and Onchan congregated there and could again. Not viable? Well perhaps not for the brewery, but maybe that says more about the brewery than the premises. 50,000 other properties? So what? We are talking about this one. A traditional public house which has been a landmark between Douglas and Laxey, enjoyed by successive generations since a time that nobody can remember.

It flies in the face of natural justice that a private business can simply destroy any prospect of anybody else making a success of a public amenity for their own narrow, anti-competitive commercial self-interest. The building should be have to be sold on the open market and, if somebody wants to have a go at running the pub there, the current owner should have absolutely no right to stop them trying to make a success of it, while at the same time providing a service and pleasure to the customers. It's crazy to think otherwise.

"I can't make this works so I'm going to stop everybody else from attempting it." Sorry. No. It isn't logical. It isn't fair. It isn't free enterprise. It's total cobblers.

Maybe John is one of H&B's lawyer's?

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8 hours ago, Rushen Spy said:

Who are the current owners?

H&B

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1 hour ago, Neil Down said:

H&B

Which begs the question - who owns H&B? It’s fairly closely held. No more than 30 shareholders.

I still remain bemused by the reaction about these restrictive covenants. Most property owners and leaseholders are subject to them. Doesn’t seem important.

Its a matter between IoMB and any purchaser.

The suggestion that LA is a community asset is risible based on my experience of going there. It’s alternative name clearly demonstrates it isn’t.

The portrayal of IoMB as having poor business acumen also doesn’t fit the reality as I see it. Since the merger with Castletown they’ve managed their estate well, they’ve shrunk the size to economic viability. They’ve sold off properties, with and without covenants, and some are successful pubs.

Other breweries have come and gone. Bucknall’s still operate.

H&B/IoMB Have  expanded into UK, 20 pubs now, they’ve set up Trade Distribution, they’ve acquired the Spar franchise. Expanded their beer range. Seems quite successful.

Yes, they’ve had turkeys, experiments into fish & chips, some of their pub formats, the swaps between tenants and management, the food policy. But it’s a changing market. Very different to what it was 10, 20, 30 and 40 years ago.

And I don’t own shares, don’t know who does, don’t act for them, have no interest. I’m not defending the brewery, just the concept of freedom to do with your property as you wish, including deciding who you sell to and on what terms. There are two competing freedoms here, Competition and private property.

Yes, we moan about the lack of a competition authority here, we mutter about monopolies, and I accept we need proper regulation of monopolies, but H&B isn’t a monopoly. And you only have to look at the current UK situation with the Sainsbury/ASDA proposed merger, the artificial energy markets, the train franchises, to see that regulation doesn’t work very well either, and still restricts freedom and competition.

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41 minutes ago, John Wright said:

I still remain bemused by the reaction about these restrictive covenants. Most property owners and leaseholders are subject to them. Doesn’t seem important.

Most covenants do not conflict with public interest (or at least the interest of a significant element of the community) in the way that these 'no pub' covenants do. I think it's fairly widely accepted that 'local' pubs do / can constitute assets of significant community value (for example see link below). Every few weeks sees a story in the UK media about communities acting together to save 'their' local. Whilst the UK is not here and here is not the UK, there are surely parallels. H&B's practice of using these covenants seems contrary to such community interest and my view is that IoMG should lean on them and tell them to stop. 

I have no idea whether the LA constituted a local community asset. I have never crossed the threshold. However the issue goes wider than the LA and I believe H&B need to be stopped from doing this elsewhere.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cheers-all-round-for-community-pubs-day--2

 

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11 minutes ago, Yibble said:

Most covenants do not conflict with public interest (or at least the interest of a significant element of the community) in the way that these 'no pub' covenants do. I think it's fairly widely accepted that 'local' pubs do / can constitute assets of significant community value (for example see link below). Every few weeks sees a story in the UK media about communities acting together to save 'their' local. Whilst the UK is not here and here is not the UK, there are surely parallels. H&B's practice of using these covenants seems contrary to such community interest and my view is that IoMG should lean on them and tell them to stop. 

I have no idea whether the LA constituted a local community asset. I have never crossed the threshold. However the issue goes wider than the LA and I believe H&B need to be stopped from doing this elsewhere.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cheers-all-round-for-community-pubs-day--2

 

Ah but Iom gov and H&B have always shared a comfy bed.

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1 hour ago, John Wright said:

Which begs the question - who owns H&B? It’s fairly closely held. No more than 30 shareholders.

I still remain bemused by the reaction about these restrictive covenants. Most property owners and leaseholders are subject to them. Doesn’t seem important.

Its a matter between IoMB and any purchaser.

The suggestion that LA is a community asset is risible based on my experience of going there. It’s alternative name clearly demonstrates it isn’t.

The portrayal of IoMB as having poor business acumen also doesn’t fit the reality as I see it. Since the merger with Castletown they’ve managed their estate well, they’ve shrunk the size to economic viability. They’ve sold off properties, with and without covenants, and some are successful pubs.

Other breweries have come and gone. Bucknall’s still operate.

H&B/IoMB Have  expanded into UK, 20 pubs now, they’ve set up Trade Distribution, they’ve acquired the Spar franchise. Expanded their beer range. Seems quite successful.

Yes, they’ve had turkeys, experiments into fish & chips, some of their pub formats, the swaps between tenants and management, the food policy. But it’s a changing market. Very different to what it was 10, 20, 30 and 40 years ago.

And I don’t own shares, don’t know who does, don’t act for them, have no interest. I’m not defending the brewery, just the concept of freedom to do with your property as you wish, including deciding who you sell to and on what terms. There are two competing freedoms here, Competition and private property.

Yes, we moan about the lack of a competition authority here, we mutter about monopolies, and I accept we need proper regulation of monopolies, but H&B isn’t a monopoly. And you only have to look at the current UK situation with the Sainsbury/ASDA proposed merger, the artificial energy markets, the train franchises, to see that regulation doesn’t work very well either, and still restricts freedom and competition.

As you say, it is their's to do with as they wish. If in their opinion it is not viable as a pub then why put a covenant on it all. Why not sell it as a pub then sit back and say "I told you so" when it fails.

Edited by Neil Down
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24 minutes ago, John Wright said:

Which begs the question - who owns H&B? It’s fairly closely held. No more than 30 shareholders.

I still remain bemused by the reaction about these restrictive covenants. Most property owners and leaseholders are subject to them. Doesn’t seem important.

 Its a matter between IoMB and any purchaser.

The suggestion that LA is a community asset is risible based on my experience of going there. It’s alternative name clearly demonstrates it isn’t.

 The portrayal of IoMB as having poor business acumen also doesn’t fit the reality as I see it. Since the merger with Castletown they’ve managed their estate well, they’ve shrunk the size to economic viability. They’ve sold off properties, with and without covenants, and some are successful pubs.

 Other breweries have come and gone. Bucknall’s still operate.

H&B/IoMB Have  expanded into UK, 20 pubs now, they’ve set up Trade Distribution, they’ve acquired the Spar franchise. Expanded their beer range. Seems quite successful.

Yes, they’ve had turkeys, experiments into fish & chips, some of their pub formats, the swaps between tenants and management, the food policy. But it’s a changing market. Very different to what it was 10, 20, 30 and 40 years ago.

 And I don’t own shares, don’t know who does, don’t act for them, have no interest. I’m not defending the brewery, just the concept of freedom to do with your property as you wish, including deciding who you sell to and on what terms. There are two competing freedoms here, Competition and private property.

Yes, we moan about the lack of a competition authority here, we mutter about monopolies, and I accept we need proper regulation of monopolies, but H&B isn’t a monopoly. And you only have to look at the current UK situation with the Sainsbury/ASDA proposed merger, the artificial energy markets, the train franchises, to see that regulation doesn’t work very well either, and still restricts freedom and competition.

Went into an H&B pub earlier this week for lunch. Not going to repeat the experience, they got my business on this rare occasion based on convenience of the location, but it was a mistake on my part. However, competency in this case doesn't relate to the whole business, but to the specific premises under discussion - if they can't make it work they shouldn't attempt to prevent others from doing so. It might be viable for the owners of the Bath & Bottle or Bushys or another more specialist / niche competitor. Frankly if they ran their pubs business as well as the Spar shops they would probably be expanding their pub estate here. If the premises are genuinely not viable for the purpose any more then they have no need to seek a restriction on its future use once sold - that is solely a matter for the local community and planing.

I don't like to see private restrictions on competition, and because of the nature of planning and licensing constraints the putting of a covenant on an ex-pub to prevent it being re-used for that purpose is de facto a private restriction on competition. I believe in the concept of freedom to do with your property as you wish; your property, you sell it you lose your rights to control it.

As to whether H&B would be subject to monopolies regulation here if such regulation existed - no idea, don't know what proportion of the island's public house estate they control. Across I was a director of a business which grew to exceed 50% UK market share, and our next nearest competitors (15% and 7% respectively) started making noises to the M&MC. We were not a monopoly but we had certainly passed the point where we had the potential to become one and to distort the market in our favour - and that's what free market regulators such as the M&MC are supposed to prevent. We diversified instead. If H&B had close to 50% then they would clearly be in a market dominant position and there would be an extra onus on the directors to exercise their power responsibly and on the market regulators to ensure that they did. Monopolies regulation primarily exists to prevent monopolies unless they are in the national interest.

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2 minutes ago, craggy_steve said:

Went into an H&B pub earlier this week for lunch. Not going to repeat the experience, they got my business on this rare occasion based on convenience of the location, but it was a mistake on my part. However, competency in this case doesn't relate to the whole business, but to the specific premises under discussion - if they can't make it work they shouldn't attempt to prevent others from doing so. It might be viable for the owners of the Bath & Bottle or Bushys or another more specialist / niche competitor. Frankly if they ran their pubs business as well as the Spar shops they would probably be expanding their pub estate here. If the premises are genuinely not viable for the purpose any more then they have no need to seek a restriction on its future use once sold - that is solely a matter for the local community and planing.

I don't like to see private restrictions on competition, and because of the nature of planning and licensing constraints the putting of a covenant on an ex-pub to prevent it being re-used for that purpose is de facto a private restriction on competition. I believe in the concept of freedom to do with your property as you wish; your property, you sell it you lose your rights to control it.

As to whether H&B would be subject to monopolies regulation here if such regulation existed - no idea, don't know what proportion of the island's public house estate they control. Across I was a director of a business which grew to exceed 50% UK market share, and our next nearest competitors (15% and 7% respectively) started making noises to the M&MC. We were not a monopoly but we had certainly passed the point where we had the potential to become one and to distort the market in our favour - and that's what free market regulators such as the M&MC are supposed to prevent. We diversified instead. If H&B had close to 50% then they would clearly be in a market dominant position and there would be an extra onus on the directors to exercise their power responsibly and on the market regulators to ensure that they did. Monopolies regulation primarily exists to prevent monopolies unless they are in the national interest.

I think they own/run 36 out of a possible 100(ish) venues

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8 minutes ago, Neil Down said:

I think they own/run 36 out of a possible 100(ish) venues

According to JW in another thread, they own less than 25% of licenced premises

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17 hours ago, LightBulb said:

I meant selling beer, whisky, brandy ,rum, vodca, does it really matter ?

You mean vodka

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18 minutes ago, craggy_steve said:

Went into an H&B pub earlier this week for lunch. Not going to repeat the experience, they got my business on this rare occasion based on convenience of the location, but it was a mistake on my part. However, competency in this case doesn't relate to the whole business, but to the specific premises under discussion - if they can't make it work they shouldn't attempt to prevent others from doing so. It might be viable for the owners of the Bath & Bottle or Bushys or another more specialist / niche competitor. Frankly if they ran their pubs business as well as the Spar shops they would probably be expanding their pub estate here. If the premises are genuinely not viable for the purpose any more then they have no need to seek a restriction on its future use once sold - that is solely a matter for the local community and planing.

I don't like to see private restrictions on competition, and because of the nature of planning and licensing constraints the putting of a covenant on an ex-pub to prevent it being re-used for that purpose is de facto a private restriction on competition. I believe in the concept of freedom to do with your property as you wish; your property, you sell it you lose your rights to control it.

As to whether H&B would be subject to monopolies regulation here if such regulation existed - no idea, don't know what proportion of the island's public house estate they control. Across I was a director of a business which grew to exceed 50% UK market share, and our next nearest competitors (15% and 7% respectively) started making noises to the M&MC. We were not a monopoly but we had certainly passed the point where we had the potential to become one and to distort the market in our favour - and that's what free market regulators such as the M&MC are supposed to prevent. We diversified instead. If H&B had close to 50% then they would clearly be in a market dominant position and there would be an extra onus on the directors to exercise their power responsibly and on the market regulators to ensure that they did. Monopolies regulation primarily exists to prevent monopolies unless they are in the national interest.

The island has too many premises offering cooked meals to eat in when there just aren't sufficient trained & enthusiastic catering staff available

& they're often not really economically viable operations anyway

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26 minutes ago, kevster said:

According to JW in another thread, they own less than 25% of licenced premises

According to H&B's website, there appear to be 36 pubs on their books. The link below lists 97.

https://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/counties/isle-of-man/

guess he's wrong then

Edited by Neil Down

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1 hour ago, John Wright said:

 I still remain bemused by the reaction about these restrictive covenants. Most property owners and leaseholders are subject to them. Doesn’t seem important. Its a matter between IoMB and any purchaser.

And I don’t own shares, don’t know who does, don’t act for them, have no interest. I’m not defending the brewery, just the concept of freedom to do with your property as you wish, including deciding who you sell to and on what terms. There are two competing freedoms here, Competition and private property.

So we can condense it down to this. Most property owners and leaseholders are subject to them, but generally covenants are to protect the wider population from the narrow interests of the current or new owner; for example, to perpetuate recreational access to a property or prevent development on a public playing field and so on. This situation is the opposite. It is seeking to protect the narrow interests of the previous owner from everybody else after the previous owner has left the building, to coin a phrase. Untenable. I don't believe that you cannot see the difference. I accept that the law may allow this, but the law needs to be changed.

So between your two competing freedoms there is actually no contest. On the one hand, the freedom to buy a building, to perpetuate it in its traditional use and perhaps build a successful business, or at least to try versus the freedom, or impertinence as it would more accurately be described, to presume to tell everybody else what they can and can't do in a protectionist attempt to restrict trade.

As for the brewery, I am quite sure that they are competently managed as far as a decent return for the shareholders is concerned, but they could be so much better. I know a few people who have worked there in various roles. It appears to me to be in the stage that comes to many mature companies. They are comfortable from generations of success in the tourism and finance booms, they no doubt have a healthy balance sheet and don't need to try too hard to turn a nice profit. Consequently, they have the luxury of being able to dabble in various diversification projects and if they go wrong it's not the end of the world. It's a kind of commercial complacency. I don't see entrepreneurial hunger there.

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