Pubs Code Adjudicator, Fiona Dickie – #WeAreNightlife

NDML Meets Fiona Dickie, the Pubs Code Adjudicator

In the heart of Leeds, at Green Room’s venue, Fiona Dickie sits down with NDML to discuss her role as Pubs Code Adjudicator:

How does the Pubs Code Adjudicator support tied pub tenants with cost pressures?

The PCA recognises that Tied Pub Tenants are facing a lot of cost pressures. The Pubs Code Adjudicator exists to make sure the relationship between the Tied Pub Tenant and their pub-owning business works smoothly. The Code covers the biggest six pub companies, those with over 500 pubs, and that equates to around 8,000 tied pubs in England and Wales.

“The Pubs Code makes sure the Tied Pub Tenants get all the information they need before they sign up to the pub and throughout their tenancy, so that they can make the best business decisions and understand their rights in order to make the tied relationship frictionless.”

What challenges do you face as Pubs Code Adjudicator?

Fiona explains that one of the biggest challenges is getting information to Tied Pub Tenants about the Pubs Code and their rights. The Pubs Code Adjudicator’s office produces lots of materials and information for Tied Pub Tenants and their rights. This is available to view and download on the PCA’s website and featured on our social channels.

“The other challenge is effectively regulating the tied pub trade to drive up standards of pub companies. One of the key ways that we drive up standards in the tied pub trade, and the behaviours of the pub companies, is through our annual survey. Every year, we interview 1,200 Tied Pub Tenants, or 15% of the regulated industry, about many aspects of their experience including the satisfaction of their relationship with their pub company. We have data by which we can then compare the satisfaction of the Tied Pub Tenants across the six pub companies. We have finished our survey for 2024 and the results will be released on the 4th June. We want to get that information out into the industry so Tied Tenants can understand where their pub company is working well in their relationship and where things could be better, and use that information to their advantage.

What success have you had as Pubs Code Adjudicator?

“I am visiting Leeds today to meet with Star Pubs and Bars and their Pubs Code Champions Network. The network is made up of interested volunteers throughout the business who are willing to be advocates of the Pubs Code and support compliance across the entire business.

“The network was established as a result of the Star Pubs and Bars investigation which I conducted and completed in 2020 in relation to its stocking terms. A lot of changes have occurred as a result of the investigation, so it’s really encouraging to see Star employees really embracing our core principles of the Pubs Code.”

What have you experienced in your conversations with pubs?

Fiona discusses her conversations with pub operators within the midst of huge pressures. “There’s a mixed experience depending on the operator, their business model and location. It’s about the ability to innovate and know your market. That’s where the support from a big pub company can be important.”

With a good tied relationship, pub companies can provide support in marketing, promotion, business development, as well as their wealth experience. This gives pubs the best opportunity to thrive. Different operators require varying levels of support, but it is important that the tied relationship is working well and having the Pubs Code to support Tied Pub Tenants ensures this.”

What are your thoughts on the price jump in lager in Q1 2024?

Fiona says: “This is just one of the examples of the cost pressures that also impacts customer behaviour. It’s an illustration that nobody really knows what’s around the corner. What I can say, is that the Pubs Code is going to be there for Tied Tenants to provide the important rights of transparency and fairness to help them weather those storms.

How does the pubs code annual survey support your work?

“The PCA’s survey tells us that the handling of repairs and dilapidations is still a pain point for many Tied Tenants. So, we are continuously working with pub companies to see what improvements they can make in that area, to raise standards and improve the experience for tenants.

“We really don’t want the Tied Tenants to be distracted by disputes with the pub company, and so to improve the experience for tenants, we’ll be testing and analysing this within our survey in order to drive up standards.”

What advice does the Pubs Code Adjudicator have for pubs and pub companies?

“What I would like to say to Tied Pub Tenants is that the Pubs Code offers important rights, that are designed to give you negotiating strength in your relationship. Tied Pub Tenants have a right to information and transparency.”

If you want to know more about those rights, please view the Pubs Code Adjudicator’s website.

Pubs Code Adjudicator

You can also speak to your pub’s Code Compliance Officer who is available to explain what your rights are. You can find out more information about the Code Compliance Officers in this factsheet.

If any Tied Tenants want to make an enquiry, please visit the PCA’s website or email