Meet The Team

New Team Member

Well kind of new, Lewis has been with us now for just over 18 months but so much has been going on we have not been shouting about him.

Following the acquisition of Globe Automatics and the switching of our all our machines to the new £20 note it has been a busy time for us all at Comrie.

Lewis has been thrown in at the deep end and I am pleased to say he can swim!

It was actually a long wait for Lewis to start with us as a week before his start date he was rushed into hospital to have major heart surgery. After his operation he had to recuperate with 12 months rest. We told him to stay in touch as he had the makings of a good engineer.

Lewis loves taking apart iphones and ipads and repairing them, so he has become the go to man when any of the team break their phones. This has also proved valuable as lots of the fruit machines we supply are now digital!

We also have some other great news about Lewis which he has just broke to the team – he is going to become a dad for the second time.

Congratulations to you both from all at Comrie.

 

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How To Pour The Perfect Pint

We spotted this article and thought it might be of use for any pubs or clubs training new staff. We are no experts ourselves in pouring pints, although a few of us at Comrie enjoy drinking them :)  We are having mixed reports from our customers about how trade is coming out of lockdown. Our trade generally is down but we can see that week on week it is picking up. So looking at it all positively we are hoping to be back to pre- Covid levels by Christmas. As before lockdown and most popular machines in Pubs and Clubs is the Digital fruit Machines.

As we all know, the best beer to be had in a pub doesn’t come out of a bottle.. Instead, most pubs have a variety of beers on tap, usually including both popular beers produced by small corporations as well as local specialties. A well poured pint of beer tastes nicer than one that’s just been chucked in the glass, and so the technique of the barperson is paramount.

  1. Select your Glass
    It is important to ensure the beer is served in a clean glass, without finger-marks, smudges or residual water from the washing process. It’s especially important to remove grease, as this destroys the head. Recently washed glasses are also undesirable because they are likely to be too warm. If possible, choose a glass with an appropriate logo on it – every little touch helps. After all, you’ll probably get a funny look if a customer orders a Fosters and a Guinness, and gets a Fosters in a Guinness glass, and a Guinness in a Fosters This is particularly important if the order contains two or more similar looking beers, such as Stella and San Miguel.

In general it is safe to assume that customers will be happy with a straight glass, but they may ask for a mug or jug, in which case you should give them their beer in a squat heavy glass with a handle. Certain regulars at some pubs defy all expectation, and you just have to learn what strange object they want their beer in. Although it is illegal to sell draught beer in measures other than 1 pint or 1/2 a pint you should only worry out this if there’s a policeman actually in the pub.

  1. Approach the Pump
    Here’s where things get more complicated. For a stout, such as Guinness or Murphys you can just place the glass on the drip tray. With lager or bitter that’s on tap you should hold the glass at about 40 degrees to the vertical just under the tap. Real Ale, or anything else that comes out of an actual pump follows a similar principle, but due to inherent foaminess you should probably make sure the pump nozzle is well inside the glass. It’s quite a simple concept to understand: the further the beer falls before it strikes the glass, the more foam will be created. Since in most cases you want to minimise the head, you must also minimise this distance.
  2. The Pull/Pour
    1. Lager (e.g. Fosters
      For a pint with minimal head it is a simple matter of holding the glass at its angle, and opening the tap. It’s important to fully open the tap, or it will splutter, and there’ll be too much foam. As the glass begins to fill you can straighten it up to the vertical. Flip the pump back up just as the beer fills the glass. If a little head is desirable, there are two alternatives. Either you can be a bit more careless in the pouring, allowing foam to be produced, or with some taps you can flip the tap up when the beer is about half an inch from the top, and then press a button on top, which forces out beer mixed with air, creating a head.
      According to 409 some pumps do this when pushed away from the user. pjd also notes that some lagers such as Carling require far more care than others.
    2. Real Ale, or pumped Bitter (e.g. Abbot Ale
      Rather different in technique, this is the only sort of pint that is actually “pulled” from a pump. Grasp the top of the pump, and pull down strongly and smoothly, whilst minimising the distance between glass and pump nozzle. After the first pull, ensure the nozzle is clear of the beer surface before returning the pump to an upright position. If you don’t do this then you will suck up the beer you just pulled! Pull more beer using a similar technique until the pint is full. It should only take 3 or 4 pulls to fill the glass. Do not stop pumping until the glass overflows, as the inevitable head will cloud your view of the liquid level. After pulling your pint, ensure that the pump is returned to an upright position.
    3. Bitter on Tap (e.g. John Smiths
      This should be poured in a similar manner to lager, but the characteristics of the beer generally lead to head being formed more easily. Down in the south of England you should try to minimise the amount of head formed, whereas northerners generally prefer their beer to have a little head. Creating exactly the desired quantity takes some practice unfortunately.
    4. Stout (e.g Guinness
      Although Guinness.com suggests holding the glass at an angle, as with other pints, it is safe to simply leave the glass on the drip tray, and open the pump up. Since you can leave the glass on the drip tray with the pump on you can save some time by dealing with another drink. When the glass is about 2/3 full flip up the tap, and leave the pint to settle for a minute or so. During this time the liquid should lose its cloudy appearance, and become black, with a white foamy head. When this has happened you can carefully lift the glass up to the tap, and fill it to the brim. Due to the thick head you should even be able to slightly overfill the glass. Place on the bar, to settle to perfection.

A Full Pint?
Since most beer glasses hold exactly a pint of liquid when full it is important to ensure that they are full to the brim. Some people don’t consider head part of the pint, whereas some will be annoyed if they don’t get any. The most important thing is to respect your customer’s wishes (which usually involve more head further north), and to not worry about pouring slightly too much beer in the glass, as a little bit of wastage to overflow is preferable to lost customers due to short measure. If a beer is left to stand on the bar, and as the head clears it is revealed that the customer has not been given a full pint you should offer a top-up, so long as the pint hasn’t been at all consumed.

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The new challenge for the pub landlord

The new challenge for the pub landlord

As pubs increasingly try to be all things to all people, new research suggests that it is in carving out a specific niche that the pub landlord best positions for venue on high returns.

The latest research on British market trends from research firm, The Montel group, shows significant disparity between demographics of customers. Older drinkers see a more traditional pub experience, and an increasing millennial customer base are looking for more unconventional features.

Millennials are particularly likely to view pubs as all round leisure experiences and are receptive to new and more unusual forms of entertainment. The difficulty for landlords will be to cater for these open minded pub goers while also meeting the needs of the traditional patrons.

We are seeing a lot of pubs put a new spin on familiar ideas, some have harnessed a sport that has certainly never been traditionally see in  pubs – while others have become known for board games or vintage video games, blurring the line between the pub and the arcade.

One commonality standing out in Mintels latest survey is the paramount importance of good quality food.

The company claims that as many as 87% of respondents, young and old, insist that high quality food is now important to them on their pub visits. Further data shows that the key area emerging in the food and beverage cuisine is Vegan.

Whilst TV football has been a mainstay of the pub for decades, choosing a different sport and sticking with it as well as throwing into the mix technological upgrades like projectors and table based ipads, can help create a unique interpretation of brand for any given location.

Some pubs have also tapped into mixed martial arts, American football or wrestling. All nighters showing sports are increasingly popular, and events like Super Bowl can help in drawing in customers who might not usually watch sport in a pub.

To capture the minds and wallets of younger patrons, innovation isn’t just desirable for publicans – it is now a necessity.

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Long Live the Local Pub!

Long Live the Local Pub!

This is even more important now than in any other time, with what our local Pubs and Social clubs will be facing coming back from Covid19. Pubs and Clubs were the first to be hit and looking like the last ones to be allowed to re-open. At this stage we do not know the impact on our national treasures but I guess it is going to be a big hit without help from the government.

Local pubs keep communities thriving, pubs are under a range of tax pressures. 3 pubs a day close their doors for good!

Further information about the beer tax is below, however in the meantime, please sign the petition to Cut Beer Tax. You can do this here;

https://www.longlivethelocal.pub/

On October 29th 2018, then Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced a freeze on beer duty freeze in response to a 116,000 strong petition asking for a cut in Beer Duty. That freeze ends in February 2020 and current plans mean a Retail Price Index (RPI) linked increase is planned. The General Election means the Autumn Budget has been postponed to early 2020 so there’s still time to make a difference.

So why cut beer tax? The simple answer; in the UK, Beer is overtaxed.

The UK has one of the highest Beer Duty (tax) rates in Europe and is three times the EU average. The government collects £3.5 billion every year in Beer Duty, as well as almost £10 billion in other taxes on pubs and brewers. Today one in every three pounds spent in pubs goes to the taxman

Along with Business rates and VAT, Beer Duty is putting pubs under enormous pressure; every day pubs are closing their doors for good. And it’s getting worse.

The government increased Beer Duty in 2017 and froze it in 2018, with year on year RPI linked increases planned it’s likely that Beer Duty will increase by at least 3% every year for the foreseeable future.

The last time Beer Duty increased year on year was between 2008 and 2013 when the government put a Beer Duty escalator in place. The impact on the beer and pub sector was catastrophic, within 5 years there was a 24% decline in beer sales, 5,000 pubs closed and 58,000 people lost their jobs.

So now we need to fight.

Pubs have been at the heart of our culture for generations and remain one of our most valuable assets. The pub and brewing industries combined create jobs, encourage tourism, and most importantly provide a vital place for communities to gather.

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Pub insolvencies reach four year high!

Pub insolvencies reach four year high!

The number of UK pubs closing their doors due to insolvency hit 530 for the 12-month period up to 30th September 2019, a 13% increase on the prior year total, and the highest bankruptcy figure since 2015. Sterling weaknesses since the Brexit referendum have seen costs of imported alcohol rise, with a decline in young drinkers hitting pub profits.

I came across this article while doing some planning for Comrie during lockdown. What concerns me most is this is before Covid19 and what pubs and social clubs are having to go through at this present time. Yes there have been thousands of deaths and many more people ill, but when we eventually get out of lockdown who knows how the pub and club landscape is going to look. Then there are all the many hundreds businesses that feed off pubs and clubs.

The government have helped with grants, the furloughed scheme and bounce back loans but I do think that the leisure industry and especially the public houses and social clubs need extra help from the government. This is because Boris announced weeks before lockdown to stay away from pubs and clubs then add in the fact that these venues will be the last to open and with strict restrictions in place! Also the demographics of your typical social club customer are 60 plus which will make them less likely to go to their local until they know things are 100% safe.

None of us have a crystal ball but my betting is a lot of the pubs and clubs that were just getting by will not be opening there doors again, which will push up the numbers even higher from my original article that I found at the top of this blog post. Add to the fact how important these places are to the local community and this is not good news for the UK as a whole.

We at Comrie will be doing our best to help and work with the pubs and clubs that we supply fruit machines, jukeboxes and pool tables to. Some of our customers have been with us for 50 years and counting which is testament to our working arrangement but also they become more than just customers! Here’s to raising a glass of beer in one of our regular pubs and clubs in the not to distant future and hopefully celebrating the fact that Big Boris has done more the help this struggling sector…….

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Don’t rely on luck for your pub lotteries

As we are already into 2020 many operators will be planning promotions and activities for the coming year.

Many will be holding lotteries and raffles in conjunction with events that they plan to hold at their venue.

A lottery is a kind of gambling which has the following key elements:

  1. You must pay to enter the game
  2. There is always at least one prize
  3. Prizes are awarded purely on chance

The Gambling Act 2005 contains strict controls on the types of gambling activities that can tale place at premises licensed for the sale of alcohol. Provided that you un your event with the strict criteria laid down by the act, it is possible for alcohol licensed premises to hold certain types of lotteries/raffles without needing any additional form of licence or permit.

Listed below are some key points to remember when thinking about operating a lottery or raffle.

Customer lottery/raffle:

  • Proceeds from ticket sales have to be spent on prizes (less deductions for reasonable expenses incurred, such as the cost of the tickets) Note that a customer lottery is not suitable for charity fundraising (you could consider a charity raffle)
  • The maximum value per prize cannot exceed £50. The prize can be cash, goods, or a mixture of both.
  • Advertisements can only be on the premises. There cannot be any promotional material available outside of the premises itself.
  • Tickets can only be sold to a customer when they are on the premises.
  • Every ticket must give the name and address of the premises and the price of the ticket. It must also state that the tickets are only available to customers of the premises and are non-transferrable.
  • Only one draw per seven days is permitted to take place.
  • The rollover of prizes is not permitted.
  • Children under 17 cannot take part.

Charity Raffle:

Must be provided as an incidental part of another event. This event does not have to be being held for charity, but you must adhere to the limitations as its operations.

A maximum of £500 can be deducted from ticket sales for prizes but additional prizes can be donated.

A maximum of £100 can be deducted to cover any reasonable expenses.

No rollover is permitted.

Tickets can only be sold at the time of the event.

If you require any further information, this can be found on the Gambling Commission website.

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Pubs committed to tackling under 18 gambling in face of Commission warnings

The Gambling Commission has called for pubs to take further action to stop under-18s from playing gaming machines – and the sector has already responded.

Over the past 12 months, the regulator has worked with local authorities and police to test compliance with laws in place to protect under-18s from the risks gambling can pose, finding that 84% failed to prevent it on at least one occasion. This is an issue already acknowledged by the BBPA and UK Hospitality, who last month joined forces on a new initiative to tackle underage gambling in pubs.

While recent figures are down from the 88% failure rate from a sample taken last year, the Gambling Commission said the rules for the machines are still not being appropriately enforced.

“The pub industry must accelerate action to enforce these rules. Pubs must take age verification on machines as seriously as they do for alcohol sales, and they risk losing their entitlement to offer machines if they do not” said the Commission’s Programme Director, Helen Rhodes. “The results last year were extremely disappointing, and we have supported local authorities in their action to raise standards. This included working with the providers of training to the pub industry to emphasise the legal requirements in training materials, a well as with the Home Office to work towards including materials on gambling in pubs in the curriculum for the personal licence holder course”

The BBPA and UK Hospitality are working with their members to produce an updated Social Responsibility Charter for Gaming Machines in pubs. The Charter incorporates a Code of Practice aimed at promoting collaboration and training to prevent underage gambling.

Core principles include collaboration across the sector to help address underage gambling, as well as offering support to staff to ensure they understand and meet their legal responsibilities.

Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, Brigid Simmonds said, “It is important for pubs to ensure that their gambling machines are not used by those underage. Not least because failure to do no could result in action being taken by local authorities to remove gaming machine entitlements, when they offer both entertainment and much needed additional revenue for over taxed pubs”.

We have recently wrote in all our sites to warn them to be on the look out for any potential underage trying to play machines. This can also pay dividends because at the same time you are keeping an extra eye on your machines to make sure no unfamiliar faces are trying to cheat them. this is something we have had happening over the last month, we will be posting more about this soon. If you are looking for the latest digital fruit machines in your pub or club please call Comrie today.

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Some Good News

Pub numbers – finally – on the rise after decade long decline

For the first time in a decade, the number of licensed pubs in Britain is on the rise. The country has lost an average of over 700 pubs each year since 2010 – a trend of decline which at one point looked as though it might be unstoppable. But according to new data from the Office of National Statistics, 2019 has enjoyed a net gain of 320 pubs on the 2018 tally – despite facing a multitude of industry obstacles like business rate changes, economic instability, and a decline in the consumption rates of alcohol.

The reduction in the pub numbers over the last decade has been heart breaking, following change to both business taxes and alcohol duties. But hopefully these figures signpost a reversal of fortunes. Hooray

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Happy New Year For 2020

Happy new year for 2020 from all at Comrie.

What a great way to start the new year, to find out that the nations favourite tipple is actually good for us. Well we at Comrie will certainly be raising a glass or two, to our good health and the health of our beloved pubs and clubs :)

Don’t worry, be hoppy.. why beer is good for you

It is research well worth raising a glass to – beer can be good for our health. Scientists have discovered that some beers are bursting with probiotic microbes – bacteria and yeast credited with a host of benefits, from combating obesity to getting a better night’s sleep.

Examples include Belgian beers Hoegaarden, Westmalle Tripel and Echt Kriekenbier, which are rich in probiotic yeast. Unlike most beers, these brands are fermented twice – once in the brewery and again in the bottle.

The second fermentation increases the strength of the beer and creates a sharper, drier taste. Importantly for health, the in-bottle fermentation uses a different strain of yeast to the traditional brewer’s yeast/ This yeast doesn’t just convert the sugar in the grain into alcohol, it also makes acids that are poisonous to bacteria that can make us ill.

Professor Eric Claassen, a gut bacteria expert from Amsterdam University said: “You are getting a stronger beer that is very, very healthy. We don’t want to give people a licence to drink more beer. In high concentrations alcohol is bad for the gut but if you drink just one of these beers every day it would be very good for you. “

Research from the University of Nebraska in the US found that some bottles of beer contain up to 50 million probiotic or ‘good’ bacteria. Once in our gut, probiotic bacteria kill rival ‘bad’ bacteria linked to illnesses including autism and bowel cancer.

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Don’t Lose Your Gaming Machine Permit!

Wetherspoons faces licence withdrawal

A JD Wetherspoon’s pub in Wanstead could be set to lose its gambling machine permit and automatic two machine entitlement after failing to prevent underage gambling in two separate police operations.

Redbridge Council licensing committee will meet on the 19th November to discuss whether The George Public House should be allowed to operate its seven machines, after a 15-year-old police cadet used them to gamble uninterrupted in January and July of this year.

Despite staff training being undertaken following both incidents, the council is now considering stripping the pub of its 2012 gaming licences altogether.

“JD Wetherspoon regrets the failure of the two test purchase exercises,” said Wetherspoon’s head of legal Nigel Connor, responding to the 10th July warning from the Council.

“We would of course be more than willing to meet representatives of the authority as an alternative to the enforcement action proposed, in order to show that the necessary measures are in place at the pub to avoid recurrence”.

This is quite simple to avoid and most local pubs do not have the footfall of a Wetherspoons pub so they should be able to keep an eye on their gaming machines. Ensure that your fruit machines are located with-in sight of the bar (the nearer the better). Also that all your staff have been told to approach anyone who looks under 21 who tries to play the machines to ensure they are old enough. If you would like more information on this please contact us at Comrie and we will send you more details of training for you and your staff. We supply pubs and clubs with fruit machines in Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley, Leicester, Northampton and Coventry and we can say nearly all the locations we deal with are on the ball with this issue, but it is best to refresh your staff to be safe.

 

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