Young guns are the inn crowd

Britain's pubs are passing from the hands of the old order, writes Dan Gledhill

When the die was cast, Giles Thorley was a 21-year-old undergraduate studying prop-erty. Ted Tuppen, a 36-year old accountant by training, was looking for a new career to cut out the travelling necessitated by his engineering business. Hugh Osmond was a 27-year-old medical graduate growing bored of his computer software venture.

Ten years after the 1989 Beer Orders, the act that forced the big brewing families to put 11,000 of their premises on the market, these three men between them control almost 8,000 pubs and have designs on thousands more. They are part of a brat pack of maverick landlords, whose innovations have overturned centuries of tradition - causing historic publicans like Bass, Allied Domecq and Scottish & Newcastle to reinvent their businesses.

Tuppen runs Enterprise Inns, a quoted company with 2,270 pubs around the country. Thorley's Unique Pub Company has 2,614 premises.

Osmond works for Punch Taverns, a privately owned operator with 1,800 establishments. He is battling to make Punch the nation's biggest landlord by securing the 3,600 pubs that Allied Domecq has put up for sale. Osmond's ambition has brought him head-to-head with the beer establishment (the beerage) in the shape of Whitbread, which last week announced a deal to buy the Allied estate.

While the likes of Thorley, Tuppen and Osmond have spent the last few years gobbling up unwanted pubs, the aristocrats of brewing have been busily spewing them out. Allied Domecq, formerly Allied Lyons, is the latest of the big names to signal its retreat. The Beer Orders limited Bass's estate to under 4,700 outlets, prompting the company to indicate that its future lies in hotels. With Greenalls also slimming its portfolio, Whitbread's fight for the Allied estate represents the beerage's last stand against upstarts like Osmond.

The idea of entering the pub trade first entered Tuppen's mind 10 years ago when he realised the implications of the Beer Orders.

Lord Young, then the Conservative Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, had decided to act in response to growing complaints about the power of the big six brewers - Allied Lyons, Bass, Courage, Grand Metropolitan, Scottish & Newcastle and Whitbread. Their control of the nation's pubs was cemented by the tied-house system, which provided them with a guaranteed outlet for their beer. This concentration of power had accelerated in the 1980s, as several regional brewing families, notably the Farrs of Nottingham and the Ruddles of Oakham, were swallowed up.

The Government's solution was to put a ceiling on the number of outlets each brewer was permitted to own.

"All of a sudden, Lord Young was putting 11,000 pubs on the market, which would have to be sold within three years," says Tuppen. "I thought that there has to be a business here."

On graduating, Giles Thorley had planned a career at the Bar - the legal variety, that is. Instead he joined Nomura, under the tutelage of the now-legendary principal financier, Guy Hands. Nomura had just taken charge of 1,800 pubs with the acquisition of Phoenix Inns, and Thorley was assigned to look after them in a venture since named the Unique Pub Company.

"My main love is property," he says. "I saw pubs as property assets."

Nomura has continued to acquire pubs, most recently the 1,241 it acquired last year from Greenalls. More than any other, this deal represented the changing of the pub guard. Greenalls is still chaired by Lord Daresbury, Eton-educated scion of the Warrington-based brewing family. Hands, by contrast, learned his trade at Goldman Sachs, the US investment bank.

Osmond made his fortune with the flotation of Pizza Express before turning his attention to Britain's pubs.

"While cinemas and restaurants have become centres of entertainment, the majority of publicans haven't got the message. There are a few of us interested in changing that," he says.

Osmond approached Allied Domecq last month with a proposal to buy its pub estate. The following week, Allied revealed it was in exclusive talks to sell to Whitbread, its long-standing ally. No wonder he feels a kindred spirit with fellow upstarts Tuppen and Thorley.

"Ted, Giles and I come from outside the industry, and we often get together to moan about the brewers," he says. "They have run the industry in the same way for hundreds of years, so the arrival of new people and new ideas must be a good thing."

Whitbread has been running down its pub estate since the early 1970s. A portfolio which once boasted 12,000 outlets had almost halved by 1989 with the demise of many inner-city locals. The stipulations of the Beer Orders forced the disposal of another 2,000 and by this year Whitbread's estate was down to 3,900.

But with the disclosure that Allied Domecq's under-invested estate was available, Whitbread spotted the chance to revive its estate and get out of brewing - a move necessitated by the Beer Orders.

Meanwhile, Osmond, aware that institutional investors have developed an aversion to small companies, is determined to create a business large enough for a successful flotation and has the whole-hearted backing of Texas Pacific, the US buy-out specialist which has just taken a 70 per cent stake in Punch.

Thorley and Tuppen are on the lookout for acquisitions, as is John Sands, managing director of Hartlepool-based Pubmaster. And John Moulton, the deal-maker who heads venture capitalist Alchemy, is expected to announce a bid for Inn Business.

Britain's brat pack of pub landlords is on the move - unless, of course, the Government decides the nouveau beerage deserves the same fate as the original.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm that there was a 'minor disturbance'

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album