The biggest issue to face the Scottish licensed trade at the moment is the sheer scale of the proposed increases in business rates. What’s even worse is that licensees are being told to pay the new rates pending appeal. The BHA and various trade bodies have written to Nicola Sturgeon, but perhaps more drastic action is needed. It is local councils that employ the rating assessors, and I can’t imagine how they think that businesses will be able to sustain rates increase of this magnitude. From Wick to Shetland, from Oban to Aberdeen – the increases are in triple digits… the Pierhead Restaurant in Voe, Shetland has a proposed 261% increase; the Cairngorm Hotel, Aviemore a 152% increase; Duke’s Corner in Dundee a 340% increase… the list goes on and on. It really is time to set up a cross-body action party… and actually take action! It’s time for the entire hospitality industry to join together and fight this.
Talking of price increases the brewers increases will hit this month… but I do hope licensees will bite the bullet and put their prices up too. I know how reluctant the majority of businesses are to pass increases on to consumers who are already choosing to drink more at home, but I do think most people now realise that the uncertainty over Brexit and the decline in value of the pound is at fault and not local business owners!
I was in Dubai recently and had some great experiences in some superb bars and restaurants. The price of drinks was extortionate, but the places were still mobbed, and were spectacular to boot. From the quality of the food, to the sheer beauty of the bars. They were a joy to behold. I’m not surprised so many folk I know go there for some inspiration. Dubai certainly offers that!
The Donna Mortimer Bannatyne Lunch organised by the Mortimer family, in memory of Donna, to raise funds for the Kilbryde Hospice was well attended by the ladies of the trade at the end of January. They once again showed that they can out party anyone. A great day was had by all… and it was great to see some of Edinburgh’s licensees come through for the occasion too. Well done to all concerned, and well done to the guests for lasting the course!
Just before Christmas I managed to catch up with Gordon Bell at Bubbles and Rahul Randev’s latest venture The Grove in Lenzie. Gordon filled me in on his plans for the future now that he is no longer with Tennent’s, although he is still working for them in a consultancy capacity. He is looking for fresh challenges and has set up a small consultancy business for the licensed trade. So if you fancy a chat with him he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve got our Movers and Shakers feature in this issue. What amazed me when we came to compile it was the sheer number of forward thinking licensed trade businesses there are in Scotland who are expanding. There are many more who we just didn’t have space for, and there were others who, although operating successfully in 2016, didn’t add to their portfolio’s but who nonetheless are very much part of the fabric of the Scottish licensed trade. I take my hat off to all of them.