Thursday, 24 March 2011

Musings on March

Funny old month March isn’t it? One starts in the continuing gloom of winter, one looks forward to the warmth of spring, it’s just distant enough from Christmas and Easter to long for another bank holiday … the old adage of in like a lamb out like a lion one reserved for the climate can so easily be translated to our industry.

Yesterday’s budget has proved that winter is not yet over for the economy and more particularly pubs, another 7.5% increase in beer duty, another nail in our collective coffin. With inflation at 5.5% (RPI not CPI – see below) you could be mistaken for thinking that the chancellor might have thought that the 2% duty escalator would have been redundant. 

Fuel duty reduced, but windfall tax on the oil companies, has brought government doublethink to a new level that Labour has called “Del Boy Economics” (at least the Trotters were loveable – not something you can say of most politicians). You can guarantee, despite their “assurances” that prices at the pump will rise to claw back the estimated £2billion the oil companies will lose.

Amazing this doublethink stuff, it allows the chancellor use higher RPI to collect taxes yet use the lower CPI to dispense government largesse on such things as pensions and benefits … if only we didn’t need all those pesky hospitals and roads and schools!

Anyways suffice it to say the majority of our customers will not be better off as result of this budget or this government’s policies so Punch’s decision to demerge managed from leased businesses can more easily be understood. Just goes to prove that all corporations are psychotic … the only master they serve is the shareholder’s bottom line (and their own pay packets). The bondholders will be forced to accept a deal that is not necessarily in their interests whilst Punch will follow the managed route (probably to the expense of their own leased customers). The good news is that the planned disposal of 2,000 leased properties might help to bring freehouses back to historic price levels. It’s just a shame that so many good operators have been driven to the wall and won’t be there to take advantage of this situation.

I can feel a rant coming on about bank’s and bail-outs and lending to pubs but nurse has told me to take my meds and clam down … oh well at least there’s a royal wedding to look forward to.

That’s better … calm and collected now and able to think about spring and the skeins of geese honking their way across this lovely blue sky … must be spring