Thursday, 26 July 2012

MARSTON'S RETAIL AGREEMENT.

The recent furore over the legalities and moralities involved in the payment of taxes is something I find a little bewildering. It is surely illegal to evade taxes, that is, to deliberately falsify accounting records so as to reduce one's tax bill, but it is not illegal, nor in my mind immoral, to use lawful means to achieve the same end. If the tax man doesn't like it, he can always act to close so-called loopholes in tax law, otherwise he, and others, should keep quiet.

While all this fuss is going on, we have to remember that HMRC routinely enters into arrangements with major companies which reduce their tax bills. According to yesterday's 'Daily Mail' neither Google nor Vodafone pay much, if any, tax in this country as a result of accounting arrangements which HMRC must have approved. Similarly, I'm aware of a scheme being operated by the brewing and pub operating company, Marston's, which seems to break all of the rules while apaprently having been given the 'green light' by HMRC.

Under what they call their 'Retail Agreement' Marston's enters into purported tenancy agreements with pub landlords under which the landlords are supposedly self-employed and running their own businesses. Marston's pays all of the pub bills except for staff costs and the council tax for the associated residential element of the property, and simply take back about 80% of the pub's net takings after VAT. Marston's say that they will be responsible for all building maintenance and that they will ensure the properties are maintained in an excellent state of repair. So far, so good. 

However, Marston's is also the sole supplier to the pub business and can determine the levels of stock to be maintained; astonishingly and despite this, the cost of stock that becames unsaleable, for example, real ale beyond its shelf life, is a charge to the retailer. Marstons also sets all of the retail prices through their computerised stock control and till system; I'm even aware of prices having been changed without any notice being given to the landlord. Marston's provides a degree of training, though very little as far as I can tell, and landlords have to agree a business plan with Marston's and are subject to close managerial oversight from them. Marston's determines the opening hours of the business and the pubs have to be operated strictly within rules laid down in accordance with an Operating Manual provided by them. All takings have to be paid into a Marston's bank account every 2 or 3 days and the landlord is required to submit a weekly invoice in order to claim their share. The sole source of income for the landlord is Marston's.

Marston's would no doubt argue that the agreement actually gives the landlords more say than this but, in practice, it does not. Marston's operates these outlets as if they were managed houses and the landlords were their employees, while claiming they are not. This allows Marston's to avoid paying the minimum wage and to avoid paying National Insurance; they also have no responsibility for any staff employed in the pubs, even though such staff appear to be employed using Marston's stationery and are paid through Marston's payroll system.

When it comes to buildings maintenance, Marston's are to say the least reluctant to spend any money. One local pub of my acquaintance has a kitchen which has been condemned and another has one that is wholly unsuitable; Marston's are unwilling to do anything about these situations, meaning that the landlords are unable to develop their businesses in ways that they might wish. Both pubs have other maintenance issues that Marston's have refused to deal with. In one case, the landlord was driven to call in the local environmental health officer in order to compel the company to fulfil its obligations; that landlord has now been given notice. Pubs on this agreement which are able to sell food are tied to menus and products supplied by Marston's.

Where all this leaves us is with an arrangement, presumably approved by HMRC, which allows Marston's to avoid paying the minimum wage, avoid paying national insurance and avoid the other responsibilities of employing staff. That the arrangement is in flagrant violation of HMRC rules governing what is and what is not self-employment is blatantly obvious. The earnings of the landlord and his family are generally such as to entitle them to claim tax credits to a significant extent, meaning that the tax payer is also subsidising this arrangement to Marston's benefit. The landlords I have spoken to also seem blissfully unaware that their free accommodation should quite probably be treated as a taxable benefit, this not being something that Marston's have highlighted, and declared on their tax returns and tax credit claims.

Is this right ? Is it moral ? Indeed, is it legal ? Is this just a tax and responsibility avoidance measure ?

154 comments:

  1. In This Residential agreement land owner must mention the information about the lease period, and details about land,etc..




    Tenancy Agreements

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  2. I'm with you on that one ! They just a bunch of robbing little pixies ! ! Amanda Wymer

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  3. Couldn't agree more with your comments !! I could go into a lot more gory detail as we have just given 6 months notice to get out of our Retail Agreement with Marstons !! My self employed profits for the year to April 2012 were £500 (and NO I havent missed any noughts off !!).
    Marstons wish to squeeze every penny out of these business, leaving the "tennants" often losing money from week to week, as was the case with us. They say you run your own business with their full support, however, the reality is that YOU are running THEIR business with neither support nor pay !! Often classed by their own Area Managers as "managed house by the back door". No, it is slave labour, whilst Marstons fleece their tennants and HMRC !!

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    1. We have just left a pub for the same reason This is so true your working 80 hrs a week for nothing DO NOT ENTER THIS AGREEMENT

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  4. WE ran a lovely community pub and had made a real difference increasing trade and with support from locals - sadly it was a big old building and we were tied on a tracker tennacy struggling to pay massive overheads - changing to retail agreement seemed a good idea - we were to get a re furb and sky plus lower prices oh great for the customers --- the reality - not so great £80 per month on cleaning materials which also included the cutting of the grass window cleaning and the ink for the printer and paper to print of their daily reports AND the stock takers reports -- no allowance on stock for line cleaning which had to be done every week -- now with 3 bars and 7 pumps on each need I say more? promotions yes but you order the stock then its out of date and you have a stock defiicit --- new area manager who is only interested in the balance sheet - removed the childrens play area with no notice rather than spend some money on it - buy the time you have paid the staff and subsidised what you need to run the pub ( cleaning statioery etc as Bob says you are left with not a lot - and at their beck and call - glorified managers with no say over the running of the pub. We were told not to get windows cleaned until further notice in october and still not allowed in march ---- can you imagine! I always thought there was something wrong with the way the VAT was processed on the weekly invoice too -- not sure how they get away with this but they do - Marstons fleece the people who keep them afloat and dont care cos there is always the next gullible person to take their place

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  5. It seems to me that there are a few pretty disgruntled landlords out there, suffering misery under this dishonest agreement. Why don't you get together and do something about it ?

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    1. we have been on the Retail Agreement for the last 3 years, the first year was a food lead pub which was manic our staff were being paid more than we were so we moved to a wet lead pub which for the first 12 months was ok we increased the turnover then at christmas they told us the pub was going on the market in april a purchaser offered and it was accepted we are now waiting for her to complete so that we can leave, we were told that we have a £5000 golden handshake and we would get our £4,000 deposit back will let everyone know how it goes but obviously after reading all these comments we are not sure what will happen i agree with everyone that the retail agreement doesnt work for the retailer we have been lucky in that we have not had a bad stock take over the last 12 months so i am interested to see what happens re-our money

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  6. Hello,
    doing some research on the retail agreement at the moment and am really concerned at what I have read so far on a number of blogs, especially from accountants.
    We are currently on a Pathfinder Tenancy with Marstons and were informed recently that our rent abatement and discounts are to be pulled as we will be transferred to a Retail agreement which will "take the weight off our shoulders" (BDM).
    The obvious threat is all support removed on the remaining term of our contract unless we transfer.
    We asked about a refurb as per Ralph Findlays (CEO) comments in May 2010 c.£50k per pub going to retail and were informed they have nothing to spend. We have a tiny kitchen with five free trade gastro pubs within 3 miles, we are a small wet pub.
    Having looked at the numbers IF we added 35% to our take (in todays market highly unlikely) we would clear c.£900, our wage bill alone would be around £1,100. Having pointed this out to the rep they said they were sure it would not be that bad!!
    Needless to say we'll try to survive the rest of our term and move on to a freetrade pub.
    All the Best

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  7. Dear Anonymous,
    I, too, am an accountant and researched the 'Retail Agreement' for friends who were thinking of getting into it. It is, without doubt, a scam designed to free Marston's from the responsibilities of employing staff while retaining all of the control over what a pub actually does. How they get away with it all is a mystery given that the way they operate the agreement has very little to do with the way that it's written. It is NOT your business and they retain total control, down to changing prices through the linked till without even bothering to give landlords notice of what they're doing.
    Whatever you do, DON'T sign up to this agreement.

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  8. I'm about to have an interview with marstons regarding retail agreement as was considering moving into the license trade. Would like some advice and questions that I can ask please. So far everything I have read ( that's not on the marstons site) seems pretty bad!! Dawnywany

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    1. I'd be asking them to explain why it is, if it's my business, that they will tell you what your opening hours are and what prices to charge; you will have no discretion over either. They will provide funds for entertainment and events that THEY approve of rather than anything you want to organise and will fund things such as cleaning only if they think it's necessary. You will have almost no allowance for ullage (losses of beer from drip trays, cleaning lines and changing barrels. You are unlikely to find that Marston's will abide by any of their own obligations under the agreement, such as ensuring that the pub is well decorated and furnished before you move in, especially the private accommodation. You will be required to complete a variety of documentation which the Area Manager will probably pressure you for, and you'll have to bank YOUR takings into THEIR account 2 or 3 times a week; they will decide how much to give you back as your share. Despite it being, supposedly, your business, they will actually control your every action. There must be enough in all of this to give you ideas for a number of questions to pursue.

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    2. Hi does anyone know to anyone on here that's took marstons to court and got any money back ?

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  9. hello been with marstons pub company for 16 years now ,I cant understand why people moan about this retail ,if you not sure get advice , if still not sure forget about it ,THE OLD SAYING GOS A PUB IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE THAT RUN THEM ,never forget that ,been in the trade since 1977,went trough some bad times ,kept my head down and got on with, MARSTONS IS ONE OF BEST COMPANYS YOU CAN WORK FOR ,from penkhull pub owner j and c

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    1. You are correct to a degree. However, Marston's appears to seek out only the most gullible for their 'Retail Agreement', which is operated in a manner entirely different to the way in which it is written. You may well be right about Marston's being better than other pubcos but that only demonstrates how truly dreadful the others must be. Why else is the government considering action to prevent them all from exploiting their tenants, leaseholders and managers in the most appalling ways ?

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    2. I've been in the pub trade with Marstons for 8 years and agree they are the best to work for. And yes the pub is only as good as the person running it. If you've worked for marstons managed before your running a pub with targets set and generally your wage budget is 18% or less if I was to work my wage in our take its 1.5% so 19.5% based on our sales. So how people can't manage with 22% is beyond me, fair do your paying taxes etc but I can run my wages less than what they budget me for I just choose to use then or I loose them next year! I pay council tax from my wages also so that wouldnt be a problem.

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  10. I too was a retail manager. Turned my pub round and was promised the earth. Got nothing.
    Allmoney to pay for entertainment,gardens,window cleaners etc was stopped affter only 2 months into my agreement.
    Glorified pub manager that's all.
    Look at Amber Taverns much more competitive and fair. Good luck.

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  11. Im lookin for a pub in the Coventry area, but don't know which website to go too, can anyone help......

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  12. I too have fallen victim of the Marston's retail agreement scam and am in the process of taking them to court! Anyone thinking of taking on one of these agreements can kiss good bye to their £4000 deposit despite how well you turned the business round for them. When the going get's tough, Marston's get tougher and turf you and your family out onto the streets with 1 days notice.

    Please get in touch with your experience of Marston's and their retail agreements as we could very well help each other out and put an end to their lies and corruption.

    rob [at] hampshirepubcompany.co.uk

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    1. I am looking at taking this sick company all the way are there a few of us that want to shut this Retail agreement down its a scam and Marstons can not get away with this

      ljwcleaning@gmail.com

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    2. I am at the stage of researching how to take them to court...not easy.

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  13. MARSTONS RETAIL AGREEMENT IS A BIG CON why the government & hmrc allow then to get away with it is beyond me . however if you are clever you can milk them very easily its the only way to treat this company its not only this agreement the company has a bad smell throughout . this can be seen the way they change the staff & area managers on a regular basis really just to avoid issues . I had six area managers in a year full of broken promises in the end I just decided to get a share of what is mine whilst I could and get out asap I am currently pursuing legal action on the lines of fraud & deception and will keep you all aware of the outcome

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  14. dear john, you are right all along we were well and truly turned over by marstons on their retail agreement, but as we found out everything is stacked against you even when they advertise there pubs as something which they are not .. ie we were told our pub came with a flat annex would be cleaned and decorated to a livable standard but realy when we got there it was a s...t hole paul + chelle , p.s i would urge no one to take out this agreement as asoon as we complained about the floors in the agreement and the accomadation we were told to lump in or 24 hrs notice to get out ... needless to say we were made homless a week before x mas last year after giving up so much ....

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    1. Sorry to hear of your treatment. this company is the pits. hope u managed to get some revenge on yor way out.

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  15. I love how everyone is anonymous my name Julie you should not hide Marston's is guilty in every way stated above . I could ramble on all day & my legal document does I am the lucky one I supose having a Lawyer & police Sgt in my family. but unfortunately I also took out a retail agreement mainly because if things are done right & everyone does their best it can work but as I found out not with this company. but one thing I always had in my mind this is a greedy world so I would have to make plans and match Marston's every step of the way as not to loose out if things go wrong and as we know they do. To be honest we had a good start a lady called ( J S ) gave us the run down and warned us clearly we would have a rocky ride as couples rarely stay together with all the turmoil's of pub management I now know what she meant in a way but as a couple if you stay strong and put your heads together you can beat it . We also had a great regional manager in ( S T ) but also he too told us basically you will get no extra help, budgets are too tight but I suppose honesty is the best policy . but when it comes down to repairs to the property we could not go on. we in the end were running a basic shack ( pub ) having been broken into by thugs with weapons this company has of yet after nearly two years not carried out police advice to update security doors and alarms the main door did not even have a sensor even to this day if you visit the pub you will find a mouldy cellar beneath the kitchen & live 240 volt cable running through the premises. The living accommodation is a disgrace, the toilets are also and the car park is a disgrace with the walls crumbling most of these things have been quoted for repairs but with the expense never done. That I suppose is down to the never ending changes in area managers these days all passing the BUCK . so believe me you will get three months out of any agreement then its all down hill unless you are prepared to foot the bills personally. Your training also will stop after a short period and you will be left like a rudderless ship .There are also plenty of back stabbers in the company ( p c ) who is totally unprofessional BDM in my opinion even to this day he has not contacted me for the keys to the premises I have left and weaves a web of lies and deceit yes I got out just in time so please .( BE WARNED ) Now you must make plans about your deposit as everyone has said above it will not come back you have to be very clever and make plans as soon as you see the end coming.

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  16. Hi we came out of a retail agreement 4 weeks ago and yes we have kissed goodbye to our £4000 deposit , currently waiting for marstons to send us down breakdown of what they have charged us 4 - apparently 3 prev stock deficits at retail price however should have claimed it back at the time, argues enough times about the menu costings but they didn't give a flying f! so 2 days before xmas with 3 kids and living with the inlaws we find out not only we losing our dep but WE NOW OWE MARSTONS £700!!! so legally because of the time frames can they charge u back to august as well as being told on the last day how much we will be getting back, they failed to let us know until we called them 2 weeks later!!!!! Well I have nothing to lose and thousands to gain so im going for it !! all the way to court!! anyone else wants advice or can help us please email me my name is Rachel email rlc.jkc07@gmail.com

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    1. to add to this on our last day of leaving our bdm did not say anything about being charged for previous stock takes it was only when my husband that called marstons a week before we were due to get our deposit back, that the legal admin team turned around and said that a decision had just been made by the director to charge back for stock deficits dating back to august and that you now owe martstons the £700.

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    2. Local MP Rachel point him to this page & get the ball rolling I have we need to take this company to task happy new year

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  18. someone has put about amber taverns operator agreements i wouldnt bother they are certainly no better than marsdens they give you 16% to pay ur staff and ur selves they dont help you they dont maintain there pubs either they will get rid of you without reason all companies are as bad even if your a manager you struggle they cut budgets and stop ur entertainment they expect alot of hrs for ur money i totally agree with the comment a pub is as good as u make it pub careers are long hrs and hard work gone r the days when u just open the doors and the business comes to u

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    1. We were with Amber Taverns for nearly five years, went into thousands of pounds in debt to keep staffing levels correct, worked all the hours god sent, did everything they asked and more to increase business then without ANY notice kicked us out two weeks ago, lt left us jobless and homeless, no explanation as to why was given...16% is the average they give 18% the maximum...They controlled every aspect of the business, even though on there website they state "We don't interfere"...it's all a load of bull

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  19. Hi, was searching Internet for one of those agreements. Does anybody have a copy to look at?

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    1. With a bit of luck, you should be able to find an old copy of the draft agreement at - http://johndhb.me.uk/Marstons/Retail_Agreement.pdf

      However, be warned that the way Marston's operate it is not the way it is written - their business managers actually see it as much the same as a managed pub situation and act accordingly.

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  20. I am posting as anonymous as I am still in a retail franchise agreement and I know that my Marston's AOM has seen this blog.
    We are currently in the process of surrendering our agreement and as yet have to find out exactly what we will be charged for the surrender, I simply wish to give some further insight into the retail agreement and the franchise opportunity.
    After deciding to leave very well paid professional jobs to take on a town centre pub for Marston's we were initially very happy with the support network until our BDM left after 2 months, then our Regional manager left and we had no support for 2 months over the Christmas period, our new AOM was initially very good, he promised us whatever we needed and on 1 or 2 occasions he came through but more often than not we got nothing.
    We work in the region of 100 hours a week for about £100 between us after staff, entertainment, cleaning products, employers NI and tax and VAT etc is paid (remember that Marston's expect all staff to be on the books) without any chance of time off because it takes so long to train a staff member to end session on the back office system and you can't always be sure that it gets done correctly.
    I have never been so exhausted and demoralised in 25 years of work and I'm looking forward to a 9-5 job, it will practically be part time compared to what we do now.
    I need to point out 1 thing though, if you, like us, wanted to get into a pub with limited finances then this seemed like the best option and I personally don't think that Marston's tried to hide anything from us in the contract, I read every page and understood every word, however I thought that I could make a fortune and unfortunately the only ones benefiting are Marston's.
    We took our pub from £2.5k a week to £5.5k but with that comes the need for extra staff and hey presto...... more wages, the percentages are very slightly stacked against the retailer but not too much that you stop trying.
    We will be so relieved to get out of this place that we don't even have jobs to go to or a house to live in, we are going to stop in a holiday cottage, when you take on a pub you give up an awful lot, don't forget that because I think Marston's have.

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  21. I also fell victim to this retail scam. I was a general manager in marstons inns and taverns and left to run a retail site. The pub was so quiet couldnt make any money so moved to a busier site. 5 months later told i owe them 1.5 thousand pound from quuet pub i left because the flat needed a clean. The place was a dump. Hence to say make an exit plan. I took my 4 grand back out the safe and left. Love to see them try sue me so i can show them up fot what they are.

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    1. Brilliant!

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    2. I entered a retail agreement 3 years ago and have taken a pub in a bad area from 5 grand a week to 20 grand a week. I had a music festival and marstons agreed to fund band and I the aesthetics of festival. I got a stage built viewing platform marquees projectors the lot. It was a huge success but because it rained on the Saturday I didn't take as much as projected. So they decided to take 1500 pounds a week off me for being in 125% growth yoy. I did not agree to this additional cost. Also they wanted a 3 grand deficit for stock that I didn't count....the next stock u guessed it was 3 grand up but still they take 300 a week off me. So before I pay staff and myself I am 1800 a week down....I kid u not. To top it off the day the area manager told me he was charging me for all this a mad man ran into kitchen and tried to kill me with a machete... once police had came I texted area manager to speak to my wife obviously in shock. His reply was we need to talk about costings..... so for getting attacked and working 100 plus hours a week I was getting minus 1800 pound a week.... my wife was due our 4th child 2 weeks later.. this is in a hugely successful business I begged for help and got none do we decided to leave immediately to keep my family safe. I have had no contact with marstons as I am done. We deep cleaned whole pub top to toe and have videos of standards and stock...also area manager JH telling passing customers to help themselves to stock as it's on my head. This is after one of my staff handing keys in. It was all too much for me. I left 7 weeks ago. Have had a breakdown due to exhaustion and not doing this job again. My last 2 weeks in business I done 37grand and 29 grand... this was in a community pub!!! Yes massive figures and broke me leaving. I was pushed and pushed and now apparently rumours are they chasing me for 18 grand....they have my y grand deposit and I put thousands into creating an outside area cellar bar etc. Please stay well away from these. I note the idiot on about percentages. Wet only yeah it's easy to get 18% labour. But I was doing 3-4 grand of food a week to. Upsall checkbook dessert blah blah. Good food houses run 24% there are thresholds for wagesale. It takes longer to walk 60metres than it does 6.... do it so many times the labour expenditure increases. Good locals are being killed off by people like marstons and units are what they want...same pub duplicated in every town. I created biggest estate pub in country and got ruined for it! They took my home made Sunday roast off me...made me do frozen....as I was number one pub in leeds on trip advisor they inadvertently took social media off me. Pub is now dead... guttEd. Pub literally 10 grand a week down every week... marstons destroy your soul they really do

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  22. interesting discussion with very little balance. This either indicates Marston are unethical or most of the people here are disgruntled.

    After recently going through a runaround after looking to take on a pub all I can add is I'm not certain the problem is with the BDM or Marstons!

    Originally looking at taking it on through the Pathway agreement, but offered a Transition agreement to last 6 months and finaly getting offered a 6 week Square Deal agreement( which I have never heard of before). The amount of work required to bring it up to suitable standard to sell food or to let rooms, means we have to pay £5k deposit and another £5k in cleaning and replacing with no guarantee of conversion to a full agreement or repayment of deposit or costs.

    as we are still waiting for the paperwork and already loosing £5k so far in associated costs, our next move will be interesting.

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    1. The lack of 'balance' may simply reflect the relative numbers of managers who are disgruntled to those who are 'gruntled'.

      BDMs are employed by Marstons and do what they're told, so responsibility clearly rests with the company.

      Your own experience suggests a pretty messy situation and one that may well end in tears which won't be shed by either your BDM or Marstons.

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    2. Well bitter boy please watch this space and watch Marstons shed some tears BDMs you are right are just puppets . but there are many ways of shedding tears and I know Marstons will shed some very soon

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  23. I'm going to set up a website where anyone who has fallen victim of Marstons and their lies can sign upto. They may have money behind them, but the more people we get on side to combat them, the stronger their case will be. Once set up I shall post a link here and contact anyone that has left their email address. Power by numbers and all that.

    To get a bit of media coverage I'm suggesting a peaceful protest outside each and every one of their depots on the same day causing their delivery drivers to be late to their drops. This way, not only will Marston's have us all on at them, the press will get involved and also the publicans who's delivery won't have turned up will also be calling customer services.

    WE WILL WIN THIS FIGHT!!

    each and every one of us will get the money back that these crooks stole.

    Rob

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    1. hi there could you please tell me if the site has been set up ,,, i could write pages on this company , i have lost in excess of 50k by running a few of these shit holes marstons call pubs ,, also i know of at least 4 or 5 people who marstons have ruined who would be more than happy to write their storys on there

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  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. I would not normally do this, but identifying specific people and calling them crooks is a bad idea, indeed, it's potentially criminal. I have therefore deleted this post.

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    2. But naming and shaming is always good freedom of speech is always best unless a lie . this page does not go far enough already to expose these fraudsters there is no other way to describe Marstons actions to those who have tried to help the set up compete in the pub Market
      however this is not going to go away and with the top companies now opening some fantastic pubs such as (POULTON ELK ) Witherspoons ------ Marstons will eventually lose any credibility it ever had and in life there is nothing worse than having public enemies working against you .

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  25. After reading this blog i'm defiantly in two minds and very unsure as i thought and kinder lead to believe this was a low risk opportunity. and with help and support from marstones as this would be my first opportunity to make a go of it on my own would be the best start for myself without taking to much of a risk.. but i'm not in no position to be losing my deposit or not to be earning enough money..i don't know if some of you just had a bad experience or just was unable to turn your site around..i'm more then confident i have all the tools and experience to make and run a successful pub but with out the support network as outline in the being and not being able to run a pub to my full potential due marstones outlining opening times pricing and what is to be sold. might hold me back to full fill what i would like to achieve. can anyone give any info on this.

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    1. Try a company called phoenix. They don't require any money up front and work on the same principle but the percentage is slightly less. Marstons have ripped so many honest, hard working people off on this agreement they deserve to be locked up.

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  26. I had recently been thinking of applying to Marston's Retail Agreement, found a pub in the area I liked and was just about to start my application online. I have saved for a long time to get the money I would be using as my deposit etc. and for some reason decided to search the web for reviews - I am so glad I did. I will not be applying.

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    1. Try a company called phoenix. Just like the retail agreement, but no deposit is needed and it's not run by crooks like marstons

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    2. Hi, I was also very close to applying to the retail agreement but am now looking fo other options. Do you have any further information or a website link to Phoenix? A google search has had no luck.

      So glad I stumbled across this site.

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    3. I don't know if either of them is the Phoenix referred to but there is the 'Phoenix Pubco Ltd', registered in Stone, Staffordshire, and 'Phoenix Inns', registered in Chester. Neither seems to have a website but you can find full addresses on several different company check websites.

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    4. phoenix pub co IS marstons!

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  27. Our site went from trading at around £1200 when we started the agreement and just over a year on we were doing around £5000 per week, but still left with little or no money. We were honest in everything we did there. Many people would buy out and pocket the cash etc, but we wanted to be above board as this to us was going to be our home for the foreseeable future. But marstons had over plans. The freehold was actually up for sale the whole time and at the first sign if any problems they come swooping in claiming that there was a £4500 stock deficit. Obviously this was outrageous and Un true, we were town out onto the streets with only a days notice. The area manager wiped the cctv as that last bit of footage on there when recovered was him walking away from the cctv box. Half the stock they claimed to be missing was stuff we didn't stock, nor ever ordered. But we were given no opportunity to put our argument across, they completely ignore their code of practice and put it straight into solicitors hands and denying us any further contact with marstons. The same area manager put temporary tenants in the pub and aloud them to trade under my licence as dps before I submitted my paperwork to the local authorities. This area manager now no longer works for marstons - he left weeks after my complaints yet marstons will not refund the deposit and solicitors say marstons accept no liability. I'm not after taking them to the cleaners like they do to others, we just want what is rightfully ours.

    I have a friend that works for marstons in a different division who had previously warned me of this area manager, but you give people the benefit of the doubt and take them on face value.

    ReplyDelete
  28. https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-BUCK-INN-Sadberge-RIP/240630616007471?ref=hl
    There is a link for all you unhappy guys to look at. Another local pub Marston's ruined, yes guys it's all about dodgy stock takes! and puppet area Managers weaving their web of lies and deceit.

    1 - if you got £5000 come on down!
    2- it starts with inflated figures of previous takings of the pub
    3- then with inadequate training of the highest order
    4- then you get the keys with no lock changes anybody could have a set
    5- but you are keen & have the will to make it work
    6- then you are hit with a very low budget so dip into your own pocket
    7- you are doing well mainly down to your own initiative & your new customers
    8- then the first stocktake should be a doddle oh no time to baffle you with B/S
    9- nothing missing or suspect just "projected figures" suddenly you realise
    10- this is where the con lies it's all in stocktakes collusion against you!
    11 - how many of you came across these problems( cask down & out dated stock)
    12- how many of you had their favourite stock takers - realists I called them!
    13- but hey you fight on & from "£2000" you take earnings up & up
    14- but you are still earning nothing for your 15 hour shifts how come?
    15- ah because you pay your own staff etc & subsidise the business too!
    16- wait a minute where are all the promises of support!
    17- oh I have a word with my area manager what! he is no longer with the company yes just carry on as normal for now
    18- you get new area manager brings bad news more budget cuts need to remove sky tv etc but lets see how we can make more money LOL
    19- the plot thickens £1000 down on stocktake what! so you dig deeper & with independent help you solve the issues and your told she is just new to stocktaking SORRY!
    20- oh gosh now I need to take a stocktaking course on how to read B/S
    21- oh guys menu change need to learn another 20 dishes OMG yes we cook the food and serve the bar cash up wash up open and close all for 50p hr
    22- what shall we do with the old stock of food ? ah its fine they say sell it off on specials never mind the stocktake I will sort it says new area manager
    23- next stocktake comes no sign of your area manager he has left again LOL
    24 so new area manager wants to try charge you for stock losses on food etc from menu change
    25- so you ask to speak to regional manager and your told oh they have all just been fired need to wait for a new one YES THIS IS ALL TRUE COULD NOT WRITE THE SCRIPT
    26-the new managers arrive ex punch taverns say no more !
    27- I let this crew know I want to leave
    28- wait for it ---------------------------------------- a bad stocktake to snazzle my deposit
    29- there is so much more to this story I might have to write a book one day LOL
    27- the rest is a court case & I will keep you all informed here or at the link above

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi we are on a tenancy at will with marstons wand were led to believe we would be working towards the lease now we have been told it will be a retail agreement that needs to done ASAP .... We have looked at the figures and can't see how on earth we can make any money at all and how do you work every shift going is baffling me it seems impossible to me and to others as I've read here so looks like we shall be having a lucky escape

    ReplyDelete
  30. Can anyone advise please?

    I've seen a Marston's pub for sale that seemed a bit too good to be true. It didn't specify 'retail agreement' but sounds the same I think as they provide the beer and take a large percentage of wet sales and provide you with rent-free accommodation and other perks. However, rather than the £4K or £5K mentioned in these comments the current owner (tenant?) is selling for five times this amount. Is this an extra-special scam or might it be a different kind of agreement?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it's the current owner who's selling, and for £20-25k, that sounds like a tenanted house. Marston's will still supply the beer at their prices, but they shouldn't be taking any percentage of the takings; there would normally be an annual rent which has to be paid and has historically been related to takings. Accommodation comes as part of the package.

      They'll be questions about the length of lease remaining, the annual rent, and other costs of running the place to consider as well as the basic cost of buying the tenancy. If you're really interested in the business, you ought to just ask the current tenant, or his agent, a few questions.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for this. This doesn't sound like it's advertised. They definitely specify rent-free and 80% of wet sales. I wondered if the high price might be to reimburse the current tenants some money lost. Anyway, yes, I'll speak direct.

      Delete
  31. Dear Bitter boy and every Marstons Retail Agreement tenant - Me and my partner are in a situation where we have only been in our retail agreement for 11 weeks (just gone into our 12th week). We gave our notice to quit 3 weeks ago now and are trying to get out asap due to the deficit in stocktaking. We are being fined £3000 for one month and just had another stock take that is again £1500 down. Son in less than 8 weeks Marstons are saying that our stocks are down by £4500.00 - what a joke. They are indicating that the staff are stealing the stock and that we should get rid of them and start again. This is a load of bollocks and have said from day one that this must be a computer error. They deny this of course and will not even attempt to look into it. I have now bought the Police, Local, Councils and now Trading standards involved. But this has only just happened so have no investigation updates for you. It was actually my local council that put me in touch with this site. I am horrified to read all your comments and just wish i had seen all this before. I am interested in some of your anonymous comments regarding seeking legal advice and what your outcomes were. I will take this all the way and name and shame marstons in the meantime with press. I just hope it will not be in vain which is why i am asking the question - am i wasting my time or do i continue? I honestly thought we would be getting our £5000.00 deposit back at the end but now have doubts. Do we not do any banking and do a runner with the money we have got to ensure we get something? I really dont know what to do. I was going to be the genuine one that waited till they found someone to takeover as long as it was before xmas, but i now have doubts. Mr Bitter Man your comments all the way through this seem to be very genuine and plausable so what would you do in my shoes please. I have 2 young children to consider in all of this and i dont want them to suffer anymore i just want out now. Please advise xx

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm afraid that I can't really offer any advice beyond what is written here already. I started the BLOG after being horrified by the way in which 2 local pubs and their publicans were treated and I read the agreement in minute detail; it was clear that what it said and the way Marston's were operating were quite different. It was also clear that the agreement was heavily in Marston's favour, all the 'rights' being on their side and all of the obligations and responsibilities being on the side of the tenant. I subsequently accompanied some friends to an interview at Marston's but, fortunately for them, their application was rejected, we strongly suspect because we asked too many questions about matters which Marston's preferred to ignore.

    I think you've probably done everything you can in your own case. Doing a 'runner' with the takings isn't a good idea as that would certainly be theft, but you also need to be aware that you're not covered by tenancy laws and the agreement allows
    Marston's to throw you out at a moment's notice if they so wish using a number of rather subjective criteria; be under no illusion, they will take you to court if it suits them.

    The stock deficit does sound ridiculously large after such a short period and, even if staff were on the fiddle, it doesn't sound realistic. Did you actually check the stocks yourself when you moved in, or just sign for what they told you was there ? I have seen some right old rubbish handed over and then charged to the new landlord when it was later written off. What do they say the deficits actually relate to ? The computer system should enable them to be quite specific. Unfortunately, they already have your deposit and they will simply take the supposed deficit from that unless you can prove that they've made a mistake. That they are unwilling to even look into the possibility that they have made a mistake would, I think, be considered unreasonable by any court.

    You may be able to get some free legal advice from your local Citizens' Advice Bureau and a solicitor's letter expressing a legal opinion on the agreement and the current position wouldn't hurt. However, Marston's have comparatively unlimited resources at their disposal and, though I understand they're fully aware of this BLOG, nothing seems to have changed over the last couple of years since I started it.

    Sadly, I don't think I can add anything else. Others who've previously contributed comments may well know more, having had experiences similar to your own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you for your time and your detailed explanation on this matter. I understand totally where you are coming from. We did check all stock and we daily check our stock levels due to this discrepancy but nothing tallies up to where they get their figures from. I hope some of the tenants reply who have taken it further so i have more understanding and hopefully a light at the end of the tunnel as to the outcome they got. Thank you again.

      Delete
  33. all you guys worrying about stock takes there is only one answer Marstons & Venners are one of the same nothing you can do its a case of baffling you with bullshit .
    the figures can be put either way they want its like legalised fraud to be honest the only way is to be smart & take your opportunities when they arise deposits will not be paid back at all do not dream
    This company is rotten to the core and believe me I have been with them along time its all said above and its all true the old saying is a eye for a eye and in these situations its the only way just take a share of what is yours and get out ASAP
    .

    ReplyDelete
  34. im so glad i read this!
    i am due to see marstons today for a retail agreement on a local pub where i live
    i could not understand how you could not have waste on line clean especially every week?
    i have been in the trade for over 20 years and have had major experience with theft etc but as ur own outlet u have to bite the bullet so to speak,
    as you learn through this i managed my stock and was very particular who i hired!
    i will not be working for someone who is adimant that there is stock missing especially when you know there is not!
    how do they get away with it?
    i have to borrow the 5k to go in and looking at this i would find myself jobless with a 5k debt on me! sod that!!!!!!!!!
    i have been in talks with admiral taverns not a great choice either but at least you set a deal in writing and your stock losses are ur own fault and they wont bill u for i\t!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. i too have been conned out of money from Marstons. They run a 'blame culture' - you are always to blame and never them!!!! Has anyone won a legal case against having their £4000 deposit stolen from them off Marstons? My regional manager decided to use my money to redecorate the managers accomodation for the next manager.

    Looking for a retail agreement - try Joseph Holts in Manchester - they give you a minimum of 30%, pay all entertainment, window cleaning & your council tax. My area manager has given me 35% for the first 3 months trading to help me get set up and has now kindly agreed to give me the full 100% profit from the kitchen as it only does a few hundred a week. The majority of their pubs do not have SKY SPORTS. They do not run a 'blame culture' and treat you the same as their employed managers. You and your staff can attend any courses you want and you are even paid a wage for attending!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Does anybody have a copy of Amber Inns Operators Agreement, or the Joseph Holts one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm very interested in seeing one of these agreements.

      Delete
    2. There is a 'Q & A' on Amber Taverns' Operator's Agreement at http://www.ambertaverns.co.uk/recruitment/operator-agreement/
      which may help. I suspect the actual agreement is only available direct from the company.

      Delete
  37. Ladies and gents,
    Why not look at the Pub Operators Agreement being offered by McMullen and Sons Ltd down in Hertford...apparently they are doing very well and so are the operators. A very fair deal.....www.mcmullens.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am a manager for marstons and have just been asked if I would be interested in taking over the pub on a retail agreement. I would get a large exit payment as I have worked for the company for a long time and could use this to pay the deposit. I read the agreement over and actually thought I must have mis understood becauce even though we take bewtween £7k and 9K a week it still isn't viable with £900 to £1100 on wages and that's with me working 70 to 100hrs a week that would leave me with only £300 ish to pay myself and taxes etc? How is that viable?
    I would like to thank everyone on here for saving me from what could have been a huge mistake by confirming exactly what I was thinking but couldn't quite believe!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have curently run a pub with my partner for the last 3 years with marston's. The thing i cant still get my head around is why us managers are classed as self employed but on the invoice they take there vat off then you have to pay vat too which i find really confusing because i thought you VAT on things you but in for your business but how does this work when they pay all the bills, the beer bill, food, deliveries and have all the machine take.

    Really what is there for a manger to buy for the pub for them to pay Vat when everythings pay for Can anybody help me understand that one please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is one of the issues which prompted me to start this Blog. The HMRC rules about self-employment are pretty clear and the people managing pubs, unless free to buy supplies, set prices and run the business in their own way, do not qualify as such under the rules as I understand them. However, it may be that Marston's and other pubcos may have come to some sort of agreement with HMRC in order to try to protect pubs; if this is the case, one wonders if it's not more about protecting the pubcos than the pubs, though that's just my own cynical view. The VAT issue is simply a consequence of the self-employed status though, if that status is questionable, so must be the VAT charging. This is the type of question which needs an answer from a real expert in self-employment and taxation which, unfortunately, I'm not.

      Delete
  40. Me and my wife was only a few hours away from attending an open day with a view to taking up a Retail Agreement with Marston's. So glad I found this blog and horrified to read about people's experiences. Needless to say, we won't be attending now.....

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have just found your blog.. I have just heard that Carl trail, who set this up for Marstons as just handed his notice in.. He is moving to punch taverns to start this agreement there... Another company taking money of hmrc.. As anybody on here ever called hmrc to look in to it...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you'll find that similar agreements are already used by other companies, Greene King for instance. The assumption has to be that HMRC has agreed to the fiddle over what constitutes self-employment, and all that leads to, as part of a political deal to keep pubs open.

      Delete
    2. A political deal? Come on...

      In essence, if you are employing people you are self employed/business owner.

      Delete
    3. I think you've missed the point. It's Marstons who are, in reality, employing the so-called 'self employed' tenants but avoiding many of the associated responsibilities and costs through the operation of a very dodgy deal.

      Delete
  42. To my understanding marstons has no union for the work staff some few thousand also without voice due to this agreement between "landlords n tenants" so it seems...

    ReplyDelete
  43. I have read through many comments and yes I belive a lot of you do not understand how the retail agreement works, but there is support for you at various levels you just need to ask for the help. Stock issues are down to you and how you control it if you sign for stock that isn't there that is Down to you and it is also nieve to think that no one steals, all the Venners stock takers I have had bar one have been quite amiable with working to get the stock on site correct but again it's down to uou to manage them!!!! At the end of the day if you don't realise the pub game is now hard more fool you but that is why you are on a temporary agreement when you start.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Are you for real

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meaning what ? Yes, I'm 'for real' and the thousands of people who've viewed this post are probably 'for real' too. This is an issue which has affected many, many people and caused a lot of them real difficulties.

      Delete
    2. Sorry bitter boy not aimed at you was meant for that last comment by that fool . I'm with you we both remember the railway

      Delete
    3. I did wonder. I suppose the 'Retail Agreement' must have had some successes, otherwise it would simply have vanished. Nonetheless, the vast majority of posts here tell a consistent story of doom and gloom, so I have to believe that those successes were few and far between, and certainly not experienced in our locality. You should see the 'Railway' now !

      Delete
    4. Marstons are a load of bull-------s. Hear the railway is nice now we will have to come over and buy you a pint

      Delete
    5. Not a bad idea, but I drink in the Prince of Wales now !

      Delete
  45. the retail agreement has a success for marstons to use our retail deposits towards all the newbuilds all over the country,they couldn't give a toss about the retail managers hardship and being thrown out of their homes and livelihood !!!!!! and loss of 5 grand , any oter company that rips of the tax and vat and employers would be hung , don't know how they get away with it me and my partner worked hard for nothing and got us in debt not happy !!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Just wondering if anyone ever gets their deposits back
    in negotiations with marstons over wet led pub currently doing about £1800 per week
    split would be 70 /30
    However we have to pay any staff, cleaning and products, entertainment, council tax, phone and internet, a decorating fund, a cellar service fund, any waste or low stock comes out of our split, also according to the paperwork they still control everything from the products we sell to the trading hours.
    really having 2nd thoughts as we know we can build the pub up but making money for whom,? As obviously we will be working for a lot less than the minimum hourly rate, working it out one member of staff doing 25 hours a week would be getting morethan us ,
    Also cannot afford to lose the £ 5000 deposit which I think we would have no chance of getting back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you can't afford to lose the deposit, don't get into the agreement. In any case, the financial arrangement on offer seems wholly unsustainable and you'd be broke in no time. For what' it's worth, I'd stay well clear.

      Delete
    2. Can honestly say we got our deposit back. But they don't hurry with it. We were told that it was company policy to issue it 14 days from exit, when in reality it was nearly 5 weeks before it arrived.

      However, I know plenty of retailers who were hit with "Mystery" charges on their last stock take. We were very lucky.

      Delete
  47. Went to talk to another marstons pub on a retail agreement
    there split was 80 / 20 community wet led pub
    however they paid no deposit and marstons pay for all their entertainment, sky sports, all repairs etc, all they pay is the council tax for the private accommodation

    why are the agreements so different

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would guess that the reasons for the differences are several, but all add up to the same thing. It's whatever suits the company at the time.

      Delete
  48. Anybody who thinks they can operate a pub on a 20% wage bill is a fool, especially with increases to the minimum wage coming up. A pub with a net of £5k per week has just £1k to spend on wages and will be open at least 80 hours a week. Thats just two decent wages including NI & pensions etc. Or about 125 hours of the proposed new minimum wage. You reckon you could run a 7 day a week day and night operation on 125 hours worth of staff? Do you think someone half decent would cook in your kitchen for minimum wage? Then pay out for stock losses - you reckon you would never overpour a drink, break a bottle, get short delivered, staff have a sneaky pint? JUST DONT BOTHER. Save up, buy a decent tenancy with a family regional brewer, or get an office job.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Hi I have just entered a retail agreement on a 6 month temporary contract where do I stand if I choose not to fulfill the 6 months as marstons state this is a cooling off period to see if this is right for the person if I were to contact my area manager to say I no longer want to do the 6 months temporary contract will I get my bond back ?? this agreement sucks and i agree with most above i have worked out that after staff costing vat and all other bills associated with running this kind of agreement my hourly wage barely meets £2.20ph simply slave labour any information will be much appreciated

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where you stand will depend entirely on the terms of the agreement which you signed. The agreement with which I am familiar makes no reference to a 6 month trial period, though I'm aware that that is what was communicated verbally to potential tenants; unfortunately, such communication carries virtually no legal weight. The agreement refers only to a 'commencement date' which is defined as being the date of the agreement. The only provision for the tenant to terminate before the expiry of the agreed contract period is for him or her to give 6 months written notice; Marston's would then determine how much, if any, of the tenant's bond is to be returned, depending on how much they judge is due to them in respect of stock shortages and other reasons. History suggests that this would be somewhat less than the whole amount. In short, if you've already signed the agreement, you may well be sunk; if it's not yet been signed, you may have hope.

      Delete
  50. hi john thankyou for your reply i did sign the agreement so called contract 10th november under the impression that it was a 6 month temp and area manager stated this to me but now i am thinking maybe that was just a ploy for me to sign however i am yet to receive a copy of my contract from them and i cant see why i have not received it i have also yet to receive any correspondance from my area manager this is very concerning i gave them 3000 bond and they take from me every week 100 to make the ammount up to 5000 i had my first stock done today and venners say my wet stock is up 1300 i argued the case as this surely cant be right unless we have taken customers money and not gave them their drinks as one of our least selling ciders was up by nearly 80 pints very strange considering we do not sell 9 gallons in a month even with my arguement venners were adamant the cellar was up by 1300 so i know now that because i am sure its not up next months stock is going to be considerably down i guess this is where marstons then have the right to start making the tennant pay for the stock deficit that in my oppinion was never there to start with

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa,
      If you want to have any chance of sorting this out, I think you need to get legal advice. You need to establish the exact contractual position and your rights, if any, regarding the supposed 6 month trial period. The issue of your stocks makes no sense at all and you might consider having an independent check carried out.

      If you don't have a copy of your agreement, there is a copy of an old draft online at :
      http://johndhb.me.uk/Marstons/Retail_Agreement.pdf
      I don't know if this is the same agreement that you signed though I expect it's at least similar and would enable a solicitor to give a view on your position. You could, of course, demand a copy of your own agreement from Marston's; if I were you, I'd be writing to the chief executive, Ralph Findlay, setting out my concerns and demanding some response.

      Delete
    2. Hi John,
      Thank you so much for your help and advise I have made an appointment to see my solicitor I have also contacted ACAS as this contract and agreement has so many flaws and wrongs it seems like legalised fraud I for one will not be taking this on the chin and Marstons have picked a fight with the wrong person all I can say to anyone thinking of taking on this kind of agreement please do not do it the pub is never yours the business is never yours you are simply working for slave labour it is a no win situation even if you make the pub viable and earn an extra 2000 a week you will need more staff to work so you pay more out of your percent and the vat bill that you pay out of your own invoice gets higher yet the rate of 22% or in some cases 20 % that marstons gives you never moves therefore you never stand a chance of earning money if you want your own pub save the money and get a tenancy once again John thank you very much

      Delete
    3. I wish you good fortune. I'm sure others would appreciate it if you would post details of the results of your efforts in due course. There do seem to be many people who have fallen foul of this same agreement.

      Delete
  51. Good evening, I agree with virtually everything said on here but I do have a question as I have an acquaintance who has just entered into one of these retail agreements. They have been told that they have to take on all the staff from the previous tenants under TUPE but as they are supposed to be self employed and starting a new business from 'scratch' (no consideration is changing hands for the purchase of the previous business)don't understand why this is so. Obviously if they have to let anyone go they will have to pay redundancy, notice etc under the employee's continuing rights if TUPE applies. Any assistance would be gratefully accepted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TUPE is a complicated thing and it's some time since I had dealings with it. However, it's my recollection that it is the case that anyone taking over an existing business does have an obligation to also take on existing staff. There are certain 'get outs' which can ameliorate the situation, the principal one I can remember is to do with any need to re-organise the business; I think I'm right to say that, in appropriate cases, any redundancy costs can then stay with the old business. Otherwise, redundancy costs which arise after the transfer do fall on the new owners. The problem is that it isn't a 'new' business, but a transfer of an existing one to 'new' owners. TUPE stands for 'Transfer of undertakings, protection of employment' and was introduced to prevent unscrupulous owners from mistreating their staff; unfortunately, it can also affect others, sometimes in a detrimental way.

      There are two things to consider. The first is the issue frequently raised here and which is the question of the real validity of the 'self-employed' status in such arrangements. It's my (inexpert) contention that these tenancies are not self-employment according to HMRC rules and, therefore, it's hard to see how there's any real transfer; if there's no transfer, then TUPE cannot apply.

      Secondly, redundancy pay only arise when staff have been with an employer for at least 2 years; staff employed for less than this will usually have no right to redundancy pay unless the employer has a more generous arrangement of their own. Pay in lieu of notice or for a period of worked notice would still apply.

      I must emphasise that the foregoing is my personal understanding and I would suggest quite strongly that your acquaintance gets expert advice on the issues involved. They may also be able to find helpful guidance on the web.

      Delete
  52. has no-one mentioned that you have to pay 20% VAT on your 22% retailer fee, yet marston's claim back 100% of the VAT on ALL the expenses. The only expenses you have are staff wages with NO VAT to claim back. I am stuck in one of these agreements now and going to force marstons to evict us. In the mean time we will buy-out and get our money back. When the legal battle starts (just after we leave) we will fight it hard! Been in this agreement for 8 months and lost £30,000. We have two kids to support and marstons have taken everything form us

    ReplyDelete
  53. has no-one mentioned that you have to pay 20% VAT on your 22% retailer fee, yet marston's claim back 100% of the VAT on ALL the expenses. The only expenses you have are staff wages with NO VAT to claim back. I am stuck in one of these agreements now and going to force marstons to evict us. In the mean time we will buy-out and get our money back. When the legal battle starts (just after we leave) we will fight it hard! Been in this agreement for 8 months and lost £30,000. We have two kids to support and marstons have taken everything form us

    ReplyDelete
  54. I worked for head office, they are a bunch of ruthless t**ts who will throw their own under the bus too. I was on the receiving end of it, I worked my row out for them under the impression that my temporary contract would be made permanent, and they were happy to fool me into thinking they would.... "yeah no problems, we'll get it extended". Right up until the a couple of weeks till it ran out, then BAM no job. My advice to anyone that's not in a managed house, do the bare minimum you need to get by, a lot of the tenanted agreements are on disposals lists, they will work you for everything they can then sell you down the river.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Hello, can anyone please help us with a bit of advice? We have been offered a foundation agreement with Marstons giving us 30% of wet sales takings and keeping the dry sales for us. The takings are currently about £2k per week. We are completely new to this and love a bit of advice please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The advice I'd give is, firstly, read the contractual agreement very, very carefully. You will find that all of the responsibilities are yours while all of the rights are Marstons'. My further comments are based on what Marstons used to call their 'Retail Agreement' so may or may not all be relevant to the 'Foundation Agreement' that you're considering; nonetheless, I'd advise extreme caution.

      I assume Marstons will expect you to be open for around 75-80 hours per week and you will have to add time for setting up, cleaning up, general cleaning, stocking and administration. You're unlikely to deal with all this in less than another 25 hours, and then you may like a holiday at some point. You will need to employ at least one person to help out, more if you're planning to do food.

      From your 30% of the takings you will have to account for VAT and pay for staff. 30% of £2,000 is £600, which sounds a lot but VAT could take £100 of this and employing one person for 40 hours at the minimum rate would cost in excess of another £300 per week. If you have a holiday, you'd have to pay for a relief manager. Add to this that Marstons seem to charge for all shortages at the selling price, rather than at cost, and their view of shortages may not be the same as yours. In the end, you may find that your share of the takings is very little, certainly not enough to live on.

      Other considerations include questions around the accommodation provided and your rights, if any, in that respect. There may be rates to pay and you may also have to have insurance - these issues are probably mentioned in the agreement. Marstons have been known to provide a small fund for bringing in entertainment as an attraction but don't count on it.

      I assume that Marstons say you will be self-employed which means you will have to register as self employed and register with HMRC for VAT purposes; you will have to keep full accounting records and prepare annual accounts which may mean employing your own accountant.

      Personally, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole, but I may be biased. However, many of the others who have posted to this Blog may well say the same.

      Delete
    2. Thank you very much for your help. We would be paying for VAT, rates, water, staff, entertainment and cleaning. It's not going to be worth it.

      Delete
    3. The help is free and you're welcome to it. Sadly, if you took up the deal, I don't think Marstons would be quite so generous and you'd end up owing them.

      If you really fancy the idea of getting into the pub trade, the best starting point is probably to look for a job as a manager, from where you'd be in a much stronger position to find out all the pros-and-cons of deals like this one before, perhaps, looking for a genuine tenancy.

      Delete
  56. Have been on the retail agreement since its inorgoration 5 years ago. In essence a great deal then. Now with an increase in wages of 20% with minimum wage introducton and now living wage. Not to mention a further 3% come October for compulsory pensions. It's time too come out! Don't touch with a barge pole!

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  57. My partner and I have too just come out of a Retail agreement with marstons.we experienced the same as the majority on here.
    No help from area manager kept refusing to help us with entertainment that HE wanted on in our pub every week expected us to pay out of our own pockets and not reimburse when we put it on the back office. Even got to the stage where we were paying to decorate the place to make it look presentable as they could not be bothered
    We took the pub to a new level was on its arse when we took it over. We tripled the takings in 3 mths.tbe more we made the more the expectations went up meaning marstons cut was bigger.after paying staff we were left with very little....we gave back the keys and walked away luckily got our deposit back as all was OK re veneers report.i would never go back on the retail agreement I would go down the GM managed route

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  58. If anyone requires legal advice I am currently using a solicitor who's details I can give out if you contact me as he is fighting my tennancy at the moment. The more that we can get on board the better

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    Replies
    1. HI there, I have just got my deposit back today but they owe me for other things and i just believe we need to get a stop to this con of a deal. If you have any info that maybe useful and the solicitor contact details if you are still pursuing this would be appreciated. gareth.scratcherd@hotmail.co.uk cheers

      Delete
  59. Yesterday's employment tribunal ruling regarding the employment of 'Uber' cab drivers must surely impact upon those who are working for Marston's, and others, in the pub trade.

    Among other comments, the tribunal said that 'Uber' was guilty of "resorting in its documentation to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology" and went on to say that "The notion that 'Uber' in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common platform is to our mind faintly ridiculous".

    While the situations may not be fully comparable, are not Marston's and other pub owning companies also using fictions and twisted language in order to justify the ridiculous notion that many pub landlords are self-employed when, in reality, they are employees ? 'Uber' drivers rely on the infrastructure of the company for their supply of customers and are bound by company rules and regulations. Many pub landlords are bound just as tightly, working in a building owned by a 'pubco', required to buy their supplies from the same 'pubco' and to sell everything at prices determined by them, and also required to use the 'pubco's' financial systems.

    For me, this is a 'slam, dunk'.

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    Replies
    1. I emailed the CEO the other day about my grievances with my retail agreement and he got the regional manager to respond. In his response he said "and you resigned" i think this is indicative that they class and treat you as an employee because you give notice on these deals and only resign if you are an employee !

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  60. As a former Marston's retailer, I'd like to add my own opinion on this.

    I was in the retail agreement for 3 years, and at first it was a decent proposition. We had a small pub which could be run with a skeleton staff, with the wife and I doing the majority of the work, and for about 18months it was all rosy. We got a reasonable budget from Marstons for entertainment, we had a little bit of a 'refresh' of the pub, (new paint and a little new furniture). Our BDM was very lenient in letting us "spend and claim" to get us set away.
    We built the pub up in that first 18 months, and we got a good return. Paying only for our car, our food, our phones, and domestic council tax and our share of the vat still gave us a decent standard of living. Yes we worked hard, yes we worked long hours, but we always have done in the pubs we have run. But we still had some money to put in the bank every week. We were happy with Marston's, and Marstons were more than happy with us....

    BUT.

    As the pub got busier, we had to take on more staff (at our cost). As food trade increased, we needed a cook to help at weekends. No big deal. But that ate into our take. But (as our BDM told us) it was "speculate to accumalate". And so it did. Our incoming cash went up, but so did the wage bill. But we were still happy enough.

    Then came the absolute killer.

    A rival pub slashed the price of its menu and drinks. Not massively, but enough that it hit our USP of being the best value pub in the area. We had a few hard weeks, and we called in our BDM to discuss what could be done as we were getting drained by the week.

    BDM was great, we came up with a strategy to win back custom, which included a focus on themed nights, where the customer got a meal and a drink for a set price. Perfect. He also (with a lot of arguing with his boss) managed to reduce our drinks prices slightly to get us a competitive edge.

    ANd sure enough in a few weeks we recovered a lot of our trade. (Helped by poor reviews of our competitor). Happy days. Full pub again.

    Only now, the prices were lower. The food offer got people in, but they were spending less, and all along we were getting our (now reduced cut), and the staff bill went up as we needed to increase the hours of the cook so we could cope. Our sales had returned to what they were previous, but we were now busier, and needed the cook (and a waitress) on the them nights in order to meet the demand.

    We struggled on for a further year, and while the pub rarely cost us anything (from reading this we were lucky), it never made us anything much either. We had to cancel holiday plans because the cost of employing someone to do the work of the wife and I would be proibitive, and when I injured myself playing sport, we had to pay more again.

    We handed in our notice and saw out our 6months notice. Leaving the pub for the last time, we couldn't help but feel Marstons had come out of this significantly better than we had!

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    Replies
    1. The real problem in all of this is that Marston's pretend that the retailers are self-employed when, in reality, they are not. Marston's determine every aspect of the business - what is sold, pricing, opening hours and so on. The retailer is required to use Marston's systems for everything, including having the tills linked to their central computer and wages paid through Marston's payroll system.

      In truth, this is not 'self-employment' and yet the retailers are being made to bear all the risks as if it were. Why anyone would accept these terms escapes me.

      Delete
    2. Their solution to everything seems to increase sales by reducing cost, they benefit as they have fixed costs but the knock on for the retailer ( and this happened to me ) was your variable cost ( the labour) increases. Reduced income increased expenditure for the retailer. They don't give a damn. I have hooked up with a fellow ex retailer and we are working together to tackle them. If anybody else wishes to join the merry bad please comment / leave contact details.

      Delete
  61. Pretty much sums up what I thought about it.

    My son and daughter-in law approached me for my opinion on a retail agreement, when the pub they both worked in was sold.
    I looked at it and at face value it seemed good. Living rent and bill free, having their own business.... I ws more than happy to help them find the deposit.

    They were given a 6 month trial period in the pub, and all they got was promises. The pub was in a desperate state with promises of investment "when they signed properly".

    But in that 6 months, we saw what it was really about. They worked tirelessly just to clean the place down, and get it fit for use. They called in favours to get repairs done (Marstons conveniently 'lost' applications for repairs). They dealt with all sorts of issues. Many at their own cost.

    6 months passed and with Marstons area manager pushing them to sign, they sought assurances that the pub would get this much promised refurbishment. Another month passed and AM showed up with paperwork, and promises. But nothing in writing.

    Eventually he appeared with his boss, and they got guarantee off a £13000 spend, most of which was going on the kitchen, so they could do food. There was minimal being done in the tatty public areas, and the frankly disgusting accomadation wasnt touched.

    We got our deposit back and they moved on. The pub has had a new couple take over, and still no sign of the refit.

    This whole agreement exists to get unprofitable pubs off the books of Marstons, and they dont care who takes them.

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  62. Marstons are regulated under the 2016 Pubs Code - if you wish to make a claim and use the legislation to get redress get in touch with Pubs Advisory Service support@pubs.expert we are independent and not funded by pub companies. Cheers

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  63. It seems to me that there may be light at the end of the tunnel for those trapped in these unfair agreements.

    The report produced for the government by Matthew Taylor includes recommendations regarding people whose employment is effectively controlled and supervised by a company; it recommends that they should be entitled to most, if not all, of the benefits of employment. To my mind this clearly covers those who have entered into arrangements such as Marston's 'Retail Agreement' and the similar deals offered by other pub owning companies.

    However, there could also be a downside if companies decide that many pubs are no longer financially viable and this could affect both those wishing to work in pubs and those who frequent them.

    Those with an interest should watch out for developments and some may wish to investigate the ramifications of Taylor's report further.

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  64. I had recently applied to Marstons for a pub within the Retail Agreement deal and before I had found this blog. A member of their recruitment team rang me today and had a quick chat about my background and what I was looking for. As I ticked all the boxes, she said she would arrange an informal chat and coffee with the "new" Area Manager within a couple of weeks. I am far from naïve but am wondering if I should continue with the meeting to hear what he has to offer or at least to get his opinion of this blog that I will show him.

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    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure Marston's have known about this blog for some considerable time though it's made no difference to their approach. It doesn't seem to bother them.

      Several years ago, I attended an interview as an adviser to a couple of friends who were considering the Retail Agreement. The interviewer seemed a little taken aback at my presence and certainly wasn't very prepared for the questions that we all asked. We were not that surprised when my friends were rejected as it seemed clear to us that they wanted rather more gullible people than we turned out to be.

      A chat with an area manager, plus a free coffee, should be fun, particularly if you asked lots of questions about Marston's understanding of self-employment, the extent of their control over 'your' business, their obligations under the agreement as opposed to their rights, and your rights as opposed to your obligations. They do seem to get through area managers at a rate of knots, the ones that I've met in the past being fully briefed on the company line and quite prepared to tell people a load of bull. It's only once the agreement has been signed that the truth becomes clear and, by then, they've got your money and you're stuffed as they simply ignore the agreement from then on.

      It does seem that various pub companies operate similar schemes though I've never understood how they get away with it, but they do. The numerous entries on this blog testify to what the results have been for rather too many people.

      Delete
  65. we need help regarding new river / Marston's and ourselves ..building coop on carpark ...private message only

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That looks like something to take up with a solicitor. Who owns the land ? What does your lease or agreement say about the land and possible development ? What planning issues are there ? Serious legal issues that need expert consideration.

      Delete
    2. could you private message us at pmw40@hotmail.com

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  66. RUN TO THE HILLS...

    Unlike many on here, I have no axe to grind with Marstons as a company or an employer. But sometimes you need to be honest.

    Last year I was asked (as a Marstons salaried manager) to take short term control of a "failing" (but still profitable) town centre pub. It was an honest agreement. A short term deal running a managed pub until a Retailer (or "Refailer" as area managers openly call them) could be found.

    Pub was ok. Dated yes, in disrepair no. It was running on an absolute minimal staff, they struggled to keep up, but no money available from head office. I made up the shortfall.
    Its a Wet and Dry site taking £10-11k a week.

    I worked a 50hr week (+ hours spent waiting for deliveries etc) as salaried manager. Wage bill to sustain the pub (absolute minimal staff for a large site) £1700.

    It was going retail. Incoming retailer/refailer would be on 20%. On a good week they will take home £2200. They'll pay VAT at 20% on that figure (£2200 - £440 = £1760).
    Even on a minimal staff level they'd be paying £1700 of that in wages, meaning the refailers earnings for a 50hr week are about £60

    Then they have to pay Domestic council tax and insurance.


    As I said, I have no axe to grind with Marstons, but this agreement is a con. The pub I managed was making them money, but the greedy B******s see Retail as a way to take a slightly profitable business and offload the wages and a chunk of the vat with no care for the retailer.

    Then if the retailer does make a go of it, they up the targets and trim the budgets anyway.

    If you learn nothing else from this thread, remember the word "Refailer". Its a joke among area managers. You fail, they find someone else who fails, then someone else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for an interesting and illuminating post which certainly is a stark warning to potential 'Refailers'.

      Delete
  67. Can anyone explain where the surplus / profits from stock goes - my wife and I have run a wet only site under a retail agreement for just over two years - apart from the first two audits where we were financially penalised for having out of date stock (which was there and overlooked by venners) prior to us taking over, our 56 day stock audits have returned a surplus of between £300 and £700 . This being the case are we not entitled to a percentage of this surplus as a bonus .. Marstons are all too ready to impose fines if the stocks are down. Is this surplus which over the last 2 years in our case is in excess of £5000 being 'squirrelled away' and used to line someone's pockets .... surely this amounts to fraud/deception on the part of Marstons - any thoughts would be appreciated. This issue aside we've been taken to task by the AOM because sales are down through no fault of our own so we're clearly not living up to expectations and making the company bucket loads of money !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would guess that the surplus simply goes into Marston's books as an increase in their overall stock values, though given Marston's way of dealing with deficits, it is quite clearly a benefit to your business and should appear as such.

      The whole agreement seems to be designed in this way, that is, to benefit Marston's at the landlords' expense. I don't think it can be called fraudulent as the details are in the agreement or can be questioned at interview, but it certainly lacks clarity in key areas which is exploited to the company's benefit.

      For me, alarm bells started ringing when I attended a meeting with friends who were considering entering into the agreement; as soon as it became apparent that we had a few serious questions to ask, Marston's representatives lost interest. They didn't want people who might question things, just those who signed the agreement and put up with whatever resulted until they became so fed up that they left. Then the cycle starts again.

      I believe that it's exploitative and unfair but, as yet, no one's proved that it's not legal.

      Delete
    2. john hope you well . Paul from railway

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    3. Hi Paul, yes not too bad though don't drink much any more. Hope all is well with you too. John B.

      Delete
  68. john what's your knowledge like on private pensions

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, not my area of expertise. What I know would not even cover the head of a pin.

      Delete
  69. That's ok will get over to see you one day

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be good. I'm sure something could be arranged via Keeley.

      Delete
  70. Never before have I had the misfortune to work for such a parasitic ,back stabbing company as Marston's. 3 years into a retail agreement the AOM has decided to pull the plug and fire us off at a time when trade is booming and the site is enjoying a boost from youngsters who have just turned 18. This particular AOM is a total embarrassment to the company who gets off on belittling retailers for his own perverted satisfaction....... here's the facts :- top performers three times in last 4 weeks, 6k+ surplus stock verified by venners over last 2 years. Reason given for notice was decline in sales over a 2 year period ....this due to chasing costs for a £26k external refurbishment decided by Marston's ..done without planning permission , then embarrassingly having to submit a retrospective planning application with the risk of the decking area being ripped out.This may sound bitter but this poor excuse for an AOM has a personal issue with me and the missus and has decided to fire us off 'because he can' . My question is have we any right of appeal against unfair dismissal and if so how do we go about it......your views appreciated . Thanks

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    Replies
    1. As I understand the Retail Agreement, Marston's consider you to be self-employed and therefore they would dispute that you can be unfairly dismissed; nonetheless, it is my contention that the terms of the agreement are far more akin to those of an employed rather than a self-employed arrangement.

      Regardless of this, the termination of any contract has to be in accordance with the terms of the contractual agreement and that could certainly be contested whether it is a contract of employment or a service agreement as claimed in this case. On the face of things, Marston's treatment of you certainly doesn't seem to have been very fair whatever the contractual agreement and you may have a right of appeal to their senior management or to an independent mediator under the terms of the agreement.

      However, I'm afraid I'm no lawyer and the only real way to determine the legal position would be for you to seek appropriate professional advice as soon as possible.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your time and comments which I will take on board.Time is now against us so I will act on your advice and seek professional legal advice

      Delete
  71. The deal sucks. I am just getting out of a tenancy at will which should have turned into a 5 year deal. I have a lot of experience in this field and even i cannot make it work with these **** after 4 months i will be lucky if its only cost me £4K and thats bumping the Ltd company. It could have been £12K to work 100 hrs a week, 7 days a week, loose a relationship and nearly kill my self with the hard work. Will be writing articles for the press once i get my deposit so will solicit opinion from people on here if thats ok. This deal needs to be ended as it is not a good deal apart from for Marstons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see no reason why others who've had a rough deal shouldn't be asked for their opinions and this forum is as good as any to begin with. I would just urge caution in making comments to ensure that we don't fall foul of libel laws.

      Delete
    2. do your own stock take a day before veneers stock take .. it costs 150 for an independent stock taker but gives you a legal platform to fire bullets back at marstons..

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  72. I've worked for just under 3 yrs on retail agreement and not claimed a penny. Wife's business so all the hours i've worked behind bar not to mention cleaning, accounts , line cleaning and taking shit off an AOM who's support leaves a lot to be desired and has now got shut of us on a whim (little man's syndrome springs to mind).Is it any wonder that retailers are leaving this company and moving on to places where their efforts and enthusiasm is at least recognized and appreciated

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  73. I have just come out of a retail agreement at the end of February and luckily got my deposit back today. Now the real fight starts, this agreement needs closing down or seriously amending and I am looking for other retailers / ex retailers to join forces and get as much BAD publicity for this deal and get it into the public eye and have teamed up with one other who has a meeting with head of Taverns today. The only way i believe Marston's will listen is if it starts affecting their ability to recruit people and to do that we need to get it public and the more peoples experiences we have the more likely we are to get coverage in the papers and on TV. Oh yes we are going in guns blazing but only with facts and truthful accounts.

    The day i took over i got a Venners stock a set of keys and to sign the agreement, they had not provided information in advance of staff to TUPEE over, no induction to the building or fire alarm systems, no information on meters, stop cocks or electrical installations or the switches and there were many as it had been added to and added to and the 1st night it turned out i didn't even have a key to lock the front door.

    Once in i discovered many H&S isles that had been highlighted but not resolved and as it had previously been a lease holder many systems needed to be upgraded including new plugs through the building, new lighting systems and the fire alarm needed to be upgraded and after a lot of wastage on the draught products that they tried to recharge me thousands of punts for ( unsuccessfully) turned out the beer pythons had disintegrated so it was their equipment at fault and was finally replaced.

    My pub was in an affluent area and the customers certainly didn't want boil in a bag or offers they wanted quality at a reasonable price but the AM's solution to everything is to do offers 2 4 1 on food but with the high price of drinks the crowd this would attract wouldn't have paid the price for drinks and all that would have happened if it had worked is dramatically reduce my income and dramatically increase the wage bill the 1 major expense a retailer has. Marston's costs are fixed so if you cook 1 meal or 1000 the gas and electric remain the same.

    This is just a fraction of my arguments with Marston's and having been promised an increase of 3% to 25 % and backdated to October they reneged on the back dated part which i intend to chase.
    I worked 16 weeks, 7 days a week every hour i was awake on the place and only took a wage for 1 month in December so basically they got to keep their pub open and up to an acceptable standard free of charge.

    Steer clear at all costs.

    If anyone would like to get in touch my email is gareth.scratcherd@hotmail.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish you luck in your endeavours !

      Although this Blog has been running for a considerable time, it's actually approaching 6 years since I started it, I have no idea how many of those who have read it, and the many subsequent comments, have continued to follow it. My initial objective was to raise awareness but, unfortunately, it's not the best forum for bringing people together as there is no easy facility for sharing contact details amongst all of the many posters other than by replying to each post individually and hoping for a further response.

      I wonder if using a networking website, such as Facebook, would not be a better option. I'd be happy to include a relevant link here.

      Delete
  74. I'm looking for a bit of advice I had a marstons pub under a retail agreement until a month ago when out of nowhere marstons turned up and repossessed the pub and threw me out that day they told me it was because of sales but this isn't true it was actually because they wanted my hotel buisness that was ran by me inside of the pub building which was agreed for me to do within the contract. Do to all this I've lost my business, home and job but now the only money I had left which was the £5000 deposit I gave them they have taken most of and charged me for lost stock of just over £1000 rewiring of all tv's £900 £600 missing cash and £600 for go over my entertainment allowance these charges are completely a load of bolocks and untrue but they have compelety cut me off I can't get through to anyone for answers. I'm just wondering if there is anyone I can get help.from

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everything depends on the contract between you and Marston's and whether Marston's can show that they've acted according to its terms. You really need to get advice from a solicitor although there are also others who've contributed to this blog who've indicated that they're trying to organise joint action and you could try contacting them. A recent post by Gareth (21st March) asked for people to get in touch with him on his email which he gave as gareth.scratcherd@hotmail.co.uk. Might be worth a try.

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    2. Hi Steven I am in a battle with them at present slightly similar to you

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    3. Hi Steven, i have just had a run in with this agreement and am gathering names of people who are also disgruntled to see what we can do, i suspect there is a better chance in numbers. If you would like to get in touch please email me gareth.scratcherd@hotmail.co.uk

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  75. I have just had my interview with Marston's for a so called Retail agreement for one of their larger pubs in Cheshire. I am so pleased I have read this blog now. Yes they tell you it's all rosy but when I asked what weekly take was it was over inflated from the actual real take. So 20% left and having to pay staff and all the 'extras' would leave next to nothing for us working 7 days a week. I am so glad I read all the posts and will now be refusing to take on any agreement with them. I will also be quoting this blog page as to my reason why. Thank you all for your honesty and saving me from this sad fate.

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  76. stay well away from this agreement iv seen it destroy many people , iv just come out of this shitty company obviously not by choice , pretty much like the stories above , 1 hour to get out and a 20k stock defecit which is laughable , I'm happy to name and shame the area managers and the rest of the pricks that call themselves marstons ...I suggest the same as gareth , everyone joins forces and gets this out there asap !!!

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  77. An interesting ruling in the Supreme Court reported today could be relevant to those caught up in Marstons retail agreement. The ruling stated that a plumber who worked only for a company, Pimlico Plumbers, is entitled to workers' rights even though he's VAT registered and being treated as self-employed for tax purposes. The important point seems to be that he was effectively tied to one organisation which provided all of his work.

    Food for thought.

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  78. I have just ended my retail agreement after 7yrs with marstons.same as all the other comments did not reach 2 pounds an hour.as far as the v.a.t goes I asked h.m.r.c after two years why I should have to pay v.a.t and they said I should take it up with marstons.in January 2015 I de registerd, which HMRC allowed. I asked about a refund with regards to the VAT,they informed me to take it up with marstons. After receiving no joy with marstons I wrote to the VAT office with information on how to reclaim my vat. On mon. 25th June I received my reply. They have accepted that I should never of been registered but informed myself that I was out of time for any claim. There appears to be a 4yr time scale and it doesn't matter how long you've been trying to discuss this matter with the VAT office, if no tribunal arrangements have been put in place within that 4yrs you're out of time. The VAT office will just keep you dangling enough to stop you from getting that tribunal started. Remember, the VAT office have admitted that the only income you receive from Marstons, is the only income you require to pay VAT on. If you do not exceed the VAT freshhold you do not have to register. Deregister now!,put your claim for any over paid VAT in writing, please don't delay.

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    Replies
    1. can you tell me how you got on please im in a similair situation although still in a retail agreement

      Delete
  79. Hi all my name is Mike and i am a specialist licensed trade Accountant and totally independent of any PUBCO. Anyway enough about me.

    All the major pub'cos have similar agreements the main reason they were developed was to avoid offering MRO agreements to tenants and leaseholders.

    With these agreements the bottom line is you are not going to make a live-able wage it is pretty much impossible.

    Our friend above @Bitter Boy has quoted a recent case regarding Pimlico Plumbers in my opinion this is not relevant with regards to any of these agreements unless the Government changes the law on Employment Status as these agreements currently pass the HMRC Employment Status.

    You can still make a living out of the pub trade however, you are not going to be the next "Wetherspoons"

    If you are thinking of coming into the pub trade i would advise people to sign 3-5 year tenancy agreements.

    Just a final bit of advice please do the following before signing any agreement.

    1. Take advice from a specialist Pub Accountant
    2. Pick your own Accountants and Stock-takers don't let the pubco influence you in anyway.
    3. Do not try and do the business plan yourself i can guarantee you will miss something and it will be the best £500 you will ever spend.

    If you need any help at all on pub related matters please give me a call on 02476335708 and i will try and help you best i can.

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  80. Just to clear up any confusion in my opinion these agreements do pass the HMRC test for self employment.

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  81. Has anybody been told that as Marstons pay for Sky TV that they have to have BT Sport as well but pay for it themselves?
    Also they provide a budget to pay for Sky but the contract goes in our names. This doesn't sit right and luckily I've found this blog.

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  82. The retail agreement is structured to screw over the retailer... but.....

    There are some goldmine wet-only sites out there (key is "wet-only" if there is a tied kitchen, run to the hills).

    A Marstons retail site is a game of "Deal or No Deal". We took on a massively underperforming wet-only pub. We worked bloody hard and for two years we managed just fine and made a comfortable living from it.
    Marstons did well, we did well. Not a champagne lifestyle but a good living.

    But as victims of our own success, they put in a small kitchen. The promised a limited menu of burgers and sandwiches.

    What we got was a menu that demanded a chef full time (at our expense) and when it didnt work (as we said it wouldn't) they picked faults in our marketing of this "fabulous new menu" (which they will tell you has been so successful EVERYWHERE ELSE).

    Wet only... do your research and consider
    Any mention of food... run to the hills

    ReplyDelete