The strength of the tied model has been validated during the pandemic thanks to the support that pubcos have been able to provide to their tenants, according to Clive Chesser, chief executive of Punch Pubs.

Speaking during MCA’s The Conversation earlier this week, Chesser told MCA contributing editor and host of the afternoon’s event Peter Martin that despite the closures seen in the leased and tenanted market historically, the pandemic had proven that that there were many positives in the model and said he hoped in time that people would view it “through a very different lens”.

He noted that almost £300m worth of support had been provided by leased and tenanted business over the past year – “we are in the pack with that but all of our peer group have provided outstanding support to tenants and that’s continuing up until they are trading properly again in June”.

Chesser said he believes that when we look back on this in six to 12 months’ time, “the vast majority” of failures across the whole of the licensed trade will come from the independent sector because they haven’t been able to lean on the support from the big pubcos. And he was keen to point out that the support is not just financial but about “expertise, advice and hand-holding”.

“I think it will prove to be a very resilient model which hasn’t always necessarily been the case in the past,” he said of the tied model.

Chesser said that Punch was keen to grow its estate where opportunities arise, but said that despite shifting dynamics such as people working more from home, the business would continue to focus on community pubs regardless of which model they sit in.

“I’m sure there will be opportunities but there is also a lot of investment lined up looking at the pub sector and looking at the leased and tenanted tied model as well,” he added.

Commenting on the place for pubs in the delivery market, Chesser said the business had learned a lot from launching its own virtual brand Bull & Bird, but he was “not sure how big that market will be for pubs”. He said it will always be peripheral to what pubs really represent and that’s the social experience.

“We know it (delivery) will be there so we need to find a way to make it work commercially for us and to play to our strengths,” he said. “I think there is a place for people to come to pubs either in person or online for the things they want to take home from the pub experience… Sunday roasts is an area that I think pubs can own in the delivery world,” he added.