First the very positive news. We are delighted to welcome Chris Wright as a Director of Morgan and Clarke. We have always had very close relationships with the Pubs Advisory Service which will continue under Chris’s guidance. The ‘fit’ for us all is perfect and ensures the best possible service to existing and new Clients particularly in the process of securing MRO and a cost-effective pathway through the complications of the Pubs Code. Chris has achieved notable successes in the last six months by securing the passage to MRO through a Deed of Variation rather than a new lease. Cost-effective, quick, and not the massive upset and doom and gloom that had been constantly been predicted by the POBs.
May has been a month of measured progress towards stabilising how rents should be valued with COVID-19 being taken into account. We find no difficulty in making proper allowance in the calculations as do some, but not all, of the Pubs Code Independent Assessors (IA). A broad selection of IAs have been recently canvassed with some of the responses being thoughtful, measured and downright sensible. Alarmingly some of the others left much to be desired.
Which brings up another point. Our Director David Morgan is involved with the RICS Working Group for the valuation of Public Houses and other Licensed leisure. Clarification was sought in mid-May for the group to urgently reconvene to find a way of guidance to RICS members as to COVID-19 rent valuation principles. The response was that the project is currently on hold. This is in recognition of the members of the Group who are still on furlough. Pity that multi-use conferencing could not be brought into being but there you go! It will be many months before there is the vital clarification and guidance is published. This does not bode well for IA referrals in the near future. With a few IAs, it is the blind leading the blind!
Early July seems so very far away when the weather now is perfect for pub trade garden use. Aside from the fact that the brewers will need time to build up a head of steam for draught beer supplies. It is hugely frustrating to have to wait yet another month to welcome back customers. Our heartfelt thoughts are with Clients, many in city centres who have no external facilities except a pavement ! Unless social distancing is reduced from two metres to one metre, they see little if any point in opening at all. A terrible predicament to face when it is not of their own making. The other big problem is the one bar server person only requirement which will hobble any attempt at volume service even into a trade garden. A hidden cost is the very fact of gearing up for that precious reopening launch. It was noted that JDW will be reopening all oftheir875 outlets Nationwide. The cost of reconfiguring the trading areas is estimated at £11 million. That is £12,571 per pub. JDW pubs are big, generally very big as we all know. Downsize that expense per pub and you could easily have a cost equivalent in a normal-sized pub of say £5,000. New Perspex screens, PPE for staff, new plastic glassware, new laminated wipe down menus etc etc. All additional cost which can be ill afforded if when open and trade full rent will then become due. There is no choice but to strictly comply with the regulations and foot the inevitable bill.
But to end on a happier note….”Anyone can get old, all you have to do is live long enough” (Groucho Marx)….”I named my dog six miles. So I can tell people the I walk six miles every day” (Steve Coogan).