Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Undercover boss … unrepentant boss ...

Updated on 18/7/12 ... see bottom of article ...

With our industry under constant assault from the health lobby and politicians looking for populist policy opportunities, Channel Four's expose of Luminar nightclubs in its Undercover Boss series has only served to reinforce prejudices currently held about the hospitality industry.

Another satisfied Luminar customer?
The unedifying sight of comatose youngsters, pools of vomit and trashed toilets throughout the length and breadth of the country in its various venues does no favour for Luminar either. Surely this isn't what Luminar were thinking of on their website where they are proud to announce: " We strive to create memorable experiences ..."

Peter Marks, the chief executive of the nightclub group was right to be "really angry" that his customers exercised so little self-control that they ended up in such a state. Personal choices and personal responsibility have to play a significant part in such scenarios, however, as a publican of over 30 years standing I did find Mr Marks' faux anger somewhat disingenuous. 

Where are the words of admonition for the managers and DPS' of his 70 strong empire? At whose behest have his clubs been offering "3-4-1" drinks promotions? Have none of his bar staff been trained to have even a rudimentary understanding of licensing law? 

Perhaps he shouldn't leave it so long to get out and about in his estate again because lame excuses about "supermarket competition" and "it's the recession" that drives his business activities simply won't wash. Plenty of operators not only obey the letter of the law but also subscribe to the spirit of the law and don't abrogate their social responsibilities purely in pursuit of profit.

Whilst I applaud his recognition of the hard-working individuals who were high-lighted during his week behind the scenes at the country's largest nightclub group, one cannot think that his corporate responsibility hat has gone back in the wardrobe along with the awful wig he wore.  

Until the trade we all love and work in takes "personal responsibility" for its actions - irresponsible drinks promotions and in this instance blatant disregard for licensing law (allowing customers to get so drunk they are comatose and require an emergency ambulance to be called) - then the health lobby and politicians of all hues will continue to use our industry as a whipping boy. As his in-house medic commented £50 of sales for the club and £1,000 cost to the NHS can't be right. (Doesn't it say something about his venues that he has to employ in-house medics in the first instance anyway? Or is it just "good practice" these days to ensure minimal chances of legal action or licensing reviews being taken against the company and its venues?)

One thing I did notice is the preponderance of young people in his clubs … perhaps if his company developed other market segments apart from the 18-24 year olds and made his venues more attractive to older customers he might not need to resort to the lowest common denominator of Jägerbombs at two quid a pop and make a decent living out of those who know how to enjoy a night out without getting completely and utterly wasted and don't mind paying a reasonable price for the privilege … just a thought …

And in the spirit of balanced comment … was this dreadful glimpse of the "night-time economy" all down to the selective editing of the program makers to show only the shocking and "make good TV" ? Answers on a postcard please …

... an answer I didn't expect to see were these crass comments by  Peter Marks in the Publican's Morning Advertiser ... my, boil, making, blood ... in any order you like! There really is no hope for some is there?

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