Pub tenants have reported a significant improvement in their relationships with their pub companies over the past year, according to new research.

The average rating of pubcos — “taking everything into consideration” — increased by 14% to 7.2 out of 10, driven by particularly strong improvements from Enterprise, Marston’s and Fuller’s.

Responses ranged from 8.4/10 for the best-performing pubco to 6.4/10 for the worst.

Some 26% of respondents said their relationship with their pubco had improved over the past 12 months, and 14% said it had worsened.

The latest Tenant Track survey from research consultancy him! was conducted in December 2013 among a nationally representative sample of 1,520 pub tenants from 12 pubcos, including all of the six largest.

Overall, Fuller’s was rated the best pub company with which to partner, narrowly ahead of Thwaites.

In general, progress was reported on the quality of training provided by pubcos (up to 6.5/10 from 6.1/10), led by improvements from Admiral, Enterprise and Punch.

Tenants also rated their pubco’s code of practice 10% higher than last year — at 7/10 on average, with the greatest advances coming from Fuller’s, Admiral and Enterprise.

Scores improved for both awareness and fairness of codes of practice, but fell for compliance — with only 66% of respondents saying their pubco adheres fully to its code.

The highest average scores were awarded for pub companies’ ordering processes and, although there has been significant movement to-wards buying online, there remains a strong desire for a personal touch, evidenced by 70% saying they prefer to use the telephone to purchase products.

In terms of the factors that lead to a tenant choosing their pub and pub company, the property itself (57%) and its geographical location (43%) remain the most im-portant factors for tenants, ahead of the tenancy agreement (20%), quality of support (4%) and business development manager (3%).

Tenants also revealed their priorities for support from their pub company: product range advice (75%); growing food sales (59%); and menu ideas (44%).

Blake Gladman, senior research manager at him!, said Fuller’s topped the ratings this year driven by a combination of factors in-cluding the quality of its BDMs, contractual arrangements and ordering process. But he said, overall, tenants were demanding more from their pubcos.

“There is clearly a demand for support across the board from tenants, from the original contractual agreement through to quality of serve,” he said. “Tenants will be demanding more from their pub company going forward in light of an increasingly competitive environment and will look to their pubco to offer the tools they require to compete and thrive in the current climate.”