Pub Companies Get Another Thumbs Up from Licensees

Licensees across 17 leading pub companies and family brewers have given a thumbs up to the support they have received from their pub companies as they begin to move forward post-pandemic.
Research consultancy, KAM spoke to 1,600 licensees as part of ‘The Licensee Index’, the annual operator sentiment tracker for the UK leased and tenanted pub sector.
As part of the survey, KAM captures licensee satisfaction with their pub company across more than 52 different measures, including recruitment, training and information, ordering and delivery, product support, promotional support, landlord services, communication and the role of the BDM. Despite the incredibly challenging few years, the average satisfaction ratings have increased across 49 out of 52 criteria measured compared with pre-pandemic (Oct 2019.)

Katy Moses, founder & MD at KAM commented, “Given the last few years we have all had, it is even more critical than ever that pub companies stay close to their licensees to ensure their offer remains competitive. It is testament to the British pub industry as a whole that the vast majority of licensees are more than satisfied with the support they have received. This research gives pub companies the information they need to evaluate their performance in the eyes of their licensees and continue to strengthen their offer and support.”

The programme also captures net promoter scores (NPS) across each of the 19 pub companies, asking whether the licensee would recommend their pub company to other potential publicans. These scores have also significantly increased since 2021 from an average of +2 to +16. NPS is particularly strong among the Family Brewers.

Despite this overall satisfaction with support from their pub companies, KAM’s research confirms that the UK leased and tenanted pub sector is currently feeling optimistic but vulnerable. In 2020 the levels of optimism for the 12 months ahead hit its lowest among licensees since the programme began (5.6 out of 10) but optimism levels are now higher than 2019 levels (7.4 out of 10.)

But licensees still obviously have a number of clear concerns with two of the biggest issues facing these businesses being cost inflation and the tax burden, according to the research. Employment costs and access to finance is also rising fast on their list of concerns.

Moses was positively surprised by the overall level of optimism and put this down to the strength and tenacity of our publicans to survive and thrive. But she stresses the clear need for continued government support:

“Despite much optimism, it’s clear from this research that pubs are still very much in the eye of the storm. Following nearly two years of limited trade they’re now hit with rising utility costs, inflation and extreme employment issues.

As licensees re-build and develop their businesses over the next 12 months plus, they will increasingly lean on their pub companies. Listening closely to those licensees will be a critical part of continuing a successful relationship and returning to a buoyant industry.”

Next month over 100 industry execs, with representatives from 25+ pub companies, will gather to discuss the results and agree what the industry can be doing to better support the leased and tenanted sector. Find out more here.