Spotlight – Yates toasts a bumper year

Jerry Green is rare among finance directors in cheering the millennium in terms of profit rather than just computer and staff-related costs.

For Yates Brothers Wine Lodges, where Green has been employed since 1997, the millennium heralds confident talk of a busy year ahead. The company unveils its annual results today, which are predicted to show a pre-tax profit of £14.1m, up from £13.6m last year.

According to Green, the real money will not be made on millennium night, but from a hoped-for ‘wave of celebration’ beginning in late autumn that will benefit the drinks sector.

Yates’ branches will remain open until 2.00am on the night, but Green says the extra staffing costs mean it may not be profitable in itself.

The chain has grown at a rapid rate over the past three years to about 120 branches and has plans to open a further 25 branches over the next year.

Green says he loves working in the drinks sector, which he describes as ‘a very congenial industry’ and ‘great fun’.

But speaking to Accountancy Age last week, Green castigated both the government and the accountancy bodies for imposing wasteful administrative burdens. The working time rules, he said, are ‘not designed with the retail and leisure sector in mind’.

He also called for a major overhaul of the UK’s archaic licensing laws, which he said need tidying up and simplifying. Magistrates, he argued, are not necessarily the right people to award licences. The job should instead be given to local authorities.

Rules imposed by the accountancy bodies also need some rethinking, according to Green. He said: ‘Some of the recent financial reporting standards are extremely cumbersome. There are whole swathes I don’t think people read. There needs to be a concentration on what is really useful rather than adding volume, which is where we are tending to head.’

He emphasised his support for strong corporate governance but said the profession needed to beware of overburdening the users of accounts.

Green plans to forget such problems on New Year’s Eve, however, when he will be celebrating the arrival of the new millennium in a Yates Brothers Wine Lodge.

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