pub, alcohol, benchmarkingThe FT’s View from the top column www.ft.com/video features Tim Martin, the chairman of JD Wetherspoon, the pub chain that he set up in north London 30 years ago and which now has more than 800 outlets. It is a great read. Good questions and good answers.

For example.

Q: The price of a pint at a UK pub has risen by about £1 in a decade, well above inflation. What’s going on?
A: The government perceives there is a binge drinking problem in Britain and to an extent that’s right, and its approach has been to attack pubs. So it has piled on the regulations, the penalties and the tax.

Local shopkeepers will recognise the sentiment.

Q: to attract more customers, some pubs are opening libraries or bringing in post office services. Is that the future?
A: Libraries and post offices are in the realms of fantasy: [innovation] has to be linked closely to the core business of eating and drinking. We open for breakfasts, which had been in the realms of fantasy for many years, but we’ve made it reality.

Local shopkeepers will recognise the challenge; and the way Mr Martin has thought through his response to diversification.

Q: Some analysts complain about breakfast denting margins. How do you defend that?
A: It’s a perfectly legitimate tactic to invest in earlier openings if you think it will produce revenue in the future, or profits in the future.

Have a look yourself. This was just the first three Q and As printed and does not even include my favourite. It is gems like this that make reading trade titles (the FT in this case) so worthwhile. Well done to Rose Jacobs, the journalist.