Pubs Code Adjudicator’s Tied Tenants Survey Shines A Light On Pub Co And Tenant Relationships

PCA issues findings from annual survey, with Marston’s coming out as the top performer across the board

The Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA) has issued the results from this year’s edition of its Annual Tied Tenants Survey, shining a light on tenant sentiment towards, as well as their relationships with, the UK’s top six pub companies: Admiral, Greene King, Marston’s, Punch, Star, and Stonegate.

The PCA’s largest ever survey canvassed the opinions of a record 1,206 tied pub tenants, with individual conversations gauging their thoughts and opinions on a variety of key areas relating to the transparency obligations imposed by the Pubs Code, including overall satisfaction with their pub company, happiness with their type of tenancy agreement, their relationship with their Business Development Manager and Code Compliance Officer, and sentiment on the information provided to them.

The survey indicates that 62% of tenants are happy with the current relationship they have with their pub company – a figure that is unchanged from last year’s survey. The areas where tenants feel pub companies are performing best include fair and transparent treatment of tenants (with four in five tenants saying their BDM is fair with them in discussions), providing quick response times to concerns and issues raised, and the provision of information.

The data reveals that tenants at Marston’s have the highest overall satisfaction rates at 85%, a +12 percentage point increase on last year. This is followed by Greene King (75%, +8 year-on-year), Admiral (75%, -5 YOY), Punch (60%, +13 YOY), Star (55%, -5 YOY), and Stonegate (50%, -9 YOY). When focusing on tenant satisfaction with their tenancy agreement, 62% of respondents are currently satisfied, while 19% are actively unsatisfied. Typically, tenants with a tied lease agreement are least satisfied (56%), while tied tenancies, franchises and other similar types of agreements are leaving tenants more satisfied (67%). Tenants at Marston’s have the highest levels of satisfaction with their agreement (79%).

A clear majority of new tenants feel they are being set up for success by their pub companies. The data indicates that 86% of respondents whose tenancies started in the last two years found the information they received from their pub company to be useful, while 64% of new tenants found the sustainable business plan useful.

94% of Marston’s tenants and 92% of Greene King tenants were satisfied with the information and materials provided to them at the start of their tenancies, suggesting that the better prepared tenants are from the outset, the higher the likelihood that they will be satisfied with their tenancies in the longer term.

Tenants were also asked a series of questions about their Business Development Manager (BDM) and Code Compliance Officer (CCO) and 81% of all surveyed tenants think their BDM is fair and reasonable (+5 percentage points on last year), with Greene King showing the highest increase from 77% satisfaction in 2022, to 88% this year, just below Marston’s at 92%. Star, Punch and Stonegate all performed better in this area than last year, with Star up to 83% from 75% and Punch up to 78% from 72%.

Stonegate was at 73% compared to 71% last year. Furthermore, 55% claimed they provide the requisite level of business planning support (-1 percentage point on last year), with Marston’s (81%), Admiral (67%) and Greene King (67%) all scoring above average; however only 37% of tenants are happy with the way they manage repairs and dilapidations (-2 percentage points on last year), but tenancy type could be driving this as tenants with a tied lease agreement recorded just 26% satisfaction, followed by tied tenancy (40%), and other types of agreement (51%).

Turning to the CCOs, just one in four tenants know who their CCO is. Of those who can name them, 56% are satisfied with the information and advice provided to them about the Pubs Code (+4 percentage points on last year), and 51% are confident in how their CCO handles matters related to the Pubs Code (+7 percentage points on last year).

Commenting on the survey findings, Fiona Dickie, the Pubs Code Adjudicator, said:
“It’s encouraging to see overall tenant satisfaction is in line with last year’s survey, despite the increasingly challenging and demanding market conditions that continue to plague the industry. There is, of course, some way to go to improving this figure from 62%, with some individual pub companies having more work to do than others, but we’re confident that, with the PCA’s support, they will be able to increase this figure.

“While it’s certainly a positive that such a high proportion of tenants are aware of the Pubs Code, at 84%, it is more concerning that only 54% are aware of the PCA and the support we’re able to provide. The fact that only 37% of tenants are happy when it comes to repairs and dilapidations at their pub is a core area of concern that needs to be analysed and improved upon, and is an example of something the PCA can help tenants with.

“It’s clear from the survey findings that the tenants who are best prepared and made aware of their Pubs Code rights from the outset, are the ones that ultimately experience greater levels of satisfaction throughout their tenancies. At the end of the day, compliance with the Code in a meaningful way is good for business, and we exist to ensure that tenants are happy so that they can run the most successful pubs possible for them and their pub company.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with the six largest pub companies, as well as their tenants, to help develop and enhance fair relationships across the board and ensure that all parties have got as much support and the requisite information they need to perform at the peak of their abilities.”