For those Wetherspoon haters out there - you know who you are - there is both bad news and very bad news. The bad news is that JDW has just opened its 800th pub and the very bad news? Tim Martin, the founder, aims to keep going until he has 1600 of them.
This was revealed last week, but in an excellent interview in the London Standard he talks about it in some detail and includes the following scathing words about the PubCos "Two extraordinary groups of fools conspired to make them possible. The brewers to give them the pubs in the first place and the banks to lend them the money." Exactly so and he could have gone on to say that the error was repeated and compounded, until a largely debt free pub trade became so debt laden that the present state of affairs occurs. When people bang on about prices and smoking bans, look to the PubCo model to see where things were made far worse, to the point of unsurvivability for many.
A word of caution emerges too. JDW is a good employer, preferring to build growth and pay and treat staff remarkably well compared to much of the industry. The City and asset strippers don't like that and would possibly like the more short term strategy. As the article says: "For a long time, the City couldn't get 'Spoons at all. Its way of doing things - invest for the long term, treat people well - is anathema to the Square Mile's whole way of being.Analysts still can't understand why Martin doesn't just cut staff benefits and shove up prices to take profits higher in the short term."
So back to the Wetherspoon haters. Be glad that Timbo is in charge or we'd have an entirely less diverse JDW on our High Streets and a lot less quality real ale available. Be thankful for the choice that JDW offers and hang on to nurse at all costs. There is plenty worse out there slavering in the wings.
Tim, at least, is a Beer Man. And that counts.A lot.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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