James Dickson, chairman of beerflow monitoring company Vianet, has told M&C Report the company is focussing on emerging pubcos and smaller multiple operators.

Dickson said the introduction of a market-rent only option in the pubs code would not change its existing strategy, which would continue to reduce the company’s reliance on the tied pub sector and introduce innovations to make its products more relevant to the leased sector.

James Dickson, chairman of beerflow monitoring company Vianet, has told M&C Report the company is focussing on emerging pubcos and smaller multiple operators as it seeks to be less reliant on the tenanted pub companies.

Speaking after the announcement of its H1 results, Dickson said he was confident the company, and the pub sector as a whole, would have time to adapt to the introduction of a market-rent only option in the pubs code, which he predicted would take up to seven years to be fully implemented.

He also said the next 12 months would be crucial in determining the future progress of the company’s US operation.

Vianet has recently signed deals with both Hawthorn Leisure and Wadworth and Dickson said the company was talking to a number of potential new customers.

He said: “We are focussing on some of the new groups that are coming out of sell-offs and to multiple retailers. We can work with these operators to help grow their businesses. The amount of data we can provide them is far beyond beer.”

Dickson said a period of uncertainty as the pub sector adapted to the requirements of the statutory code was inevitable but stressed he did not expect a significant uptake of MRO.

He said: “It requires significant capital, increased pressure on cashflow and higher rate of business failure. It means the potential doubling of the ongoing rent. The publican will need to find the funds for a higher deposit and funds to buy fixtures and fittings. With MRO we would expect there would be no pub company investment or support and certainly there would be little incentive to provide short-term relief where a tenant was experiencing trading issues. The tenant would also any benefits from the pub company’s scale purchases and ranging.”

The company’s iDraught system now accounts for 18% of its beer monitoring installations – a figure Dickson expects to be in the mid-20s by this time next year with an eventual target of c50%.

In America the company is continuing to target large chains but admits that further traction is required to justify the case for further investment in the US.

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