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10th March 2021


~ 72% say business survival less likely without pub company partnership ~ 

A Parliamentary Bill which is set to become legislation at the end of the month is a ‘kick in the teeth’ say those who the bill is intended to protect.

The Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill which was proposed by Neil Bibby MSP and is due to be voted on in the Scottish Parliament on 23 March aims to regulate the commercial partnerships between tenants who lease a pub and their pub owning businesses. But, nearly a quarter of pub tenants who Mr Bibby claims will be supported by the bill if it comes into law, have signed a letter saying they oppose it. 183 tenants have written to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, asking for her to reconsider the bill. Under the current tied pubs business model which has existed for generations, pub tenants can lease a pub at a low cost, with a much reduced rent, in return for sharing of financial rewards through beer sales at the pub. The pub owning business also supports the tenants through capital investment in the pub. During the pandemic tenanted pubs in Scotland have been supported by pub owning businesses to the tune of £6m through rent reductions.

In a recent survey conducted by Scottish Beer and Pub Association, 90 pub tenants representing 200 pubs responded to a poll on their views on pub tenancy and 72% of pub tenants say without the support from their pub company partner, reopening and business survival would have been less likely in the last year.

Simon Mcloed, who operates two tenanted pubs, Tannahills and Tea Gardens Tavern in Paisley, said: “The restrictions that are required to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have had devastating financial consequences for pubs and if it weren’t for the tied pub model the situation would be a whole lot worse right now.”

When asked what priorities the Scottish government should be focussing on right now, respondents to the survey said that fighting the pandemic and reopening the sector came out top, with creating new regulation for the leased and tenanted model coming in at second to last in priorities. “This just isn’t the right time to be considering legislation that is only going to stifle our recovery. The focus now from MSPs should be on revitalising the industry and the timing of this bill is really not good. I think it’s unwise and we should be concentrating on the economy”, added Mcloed.

Struan Robertson who operates Balavoulin in Aviemore said of the uncertainty created by the Bill, “I think that it’s pretty much a kick in the teeth”. He adds that future investment in his pub has been paused.  “It’s not even Covid that’s brought this to a halt, it’s the Tied Pubs Bill,” he concluded.

70.5% responded that the current tied pub system is a good low-cost entry in running a pub. Brian Matthews tenant at the Oswalds Bar in Glasgow said, “I was looking for a pub in Glasgow city centre. A tied deal was the only way I could have got a city centre location in Glasgow, as a free-of-tie rent would have been too much for me to get started. I was happy to sign up to a tied deal and the support [my pub company partner] has given me throughout the crisis has been excellent.”

Emma McClarkin CEO of Scottish Beer and Pub Association said, “The results of this survey show very clearly that pub tenants value the pub partnership model and don’t want this legislation. Regulations that interfere with business partnerships are a hinderance, not a benefit, particularly at a time when Scottish Government and MSPs should be focussed on a workable roadmap to re-opening and recovery of the sector.”


9 March 2021

SBPA tenant survey (26- 28 February 2021) 

Press release from the Scottish Beer & Pub Association

Becky Haywood, Scottish Beer & Pub Association, 07974132040

Paul Togneri, Scottish Beer & Pub Association, 07502 159 101