Working All The Hours For None Of The Rights At Enterprise Inns

14 Aug 2010

Enterprise Inns chief executive Ted Tuppen says for many people, pulling pints in their own pub is “the dream”. But GMB member Beverley Ryan’s dream, in her words, has gone “pear-shaped”. She’s one of Britain’s 30,000 “tied” pub tenants who work long and hard, mostly for a pittance.

More than half of all landlords are “tied” to buy their stock from the same company that owns their pub and a recent survey says two thirds of them earn less than £15,000 a year. That’s only half the scandal. The other half is that Beverley is classed as self-employed, despite working every day of the week to boost the profits of pub chain Enterprise Inns.

This means that she is deprived of basic rights, like the minimum wage. We believe Enterprise should either accept that she is an employee, with all the rights that go with it, or set her free to run her own business. Freedom is something she definitely does not have. Enterprise takes £720 a week rent and charges well over the odds for her drinks.

An 11-gallon keg of Carling from Enterprise costs Beverley £138. A meter in her pipes checks she doesn’t buy it from a wholesaler for £80. She buys their Holsten Pils at £32 per case instead of £16 in a supermarket. If the pub needs repairs, she has to ring Enterprise. There’s a £1,000 excess on her insurance, which is also through Enterprise. The fruit machines, pool table and jukebox are “tied”” and typically cost £20 a week over the going rate. After sharing the profits, Beverley is left with as little as £1.50 a week.

It took us three days to speak to Beverley, 48, who has run the ­Travellers’ Inn in Parkgate, Rotherham for 11 years, first as a manager before taking over the lease three years ago. “I don’t answer numbers I don’t recognise,” she admitted. “I owe everyone. I could work in a circus I juggle so much.”

Hayley Brennan, Pubco lead organiser of the GMB union, said: “The only thing making tied landlords self-employed is hiring their own staff but most can’t afford to.”

Beverley’s accounts make grim reading, the pub making a £30,000 loss last year on takings of £145,000. She’s working as an Avon lady to make ends meet and has had one holiday in eight years. “It’s a real sob story. It’s not just a pub. It’s my home. My daughter grew up here.” Her voice cracks and she pauses. “They aren’t my customers, they are my friends. We have parties, we have weddings, we have funerals.” Beverley has signed over £10,000 of fixtures and fittings to Enterprise, losing her only asset. She doubts she will last the year and won’t get a penny when she leaves.

In fact, the GMB has seen Enterprise charge “surrender fees” of £20,000 to £220,000 covering “dilapidation” to the building and lost rent. Yet, with 40 pubs failing every week, the company says applications from potential tenants have doubled this year. Enterprise claims the system works well but wouldn’t comment on ­Beverley’s story - except to say it was “inaccurate, incomplete and misleading” without explaining why. It spent £18m last year helping 1,900 pubs in trouble, which sounds a lot until you realise the company made a £438m operating profit, with £52m going to shareholders in dividends.

Boss Ted Tuppen, 58, got a recession-busting 28% payrise to £811,000, plus £160,000 towards his pension.

Unlike Beverley, if he’s forced out of his job, he’ll get paid at least a year’s notice.

Source: Daily Mirror