Stage two of his masterplan is complete. Burton has won over both the University’s students and its guardians. I must say that I am pleasantly surprised. He should certainly be commended for his efforts in persuading the University’s Commercial Services to allow the Students’ Union a chance to succeed where they have failed.
However, though the contract is safely in the hands of YUSU, this jaunt into the world of bartending is far from being free of danger. YUSU and Burton have proved that they can run a retail outlet, but the move from selling newspapers and sweets at YOUR:Shop, to Carlsberg and VKs at ‘YOUR:Bar’ may prove to be a little tougher than they imagine.
His first problem will be the proprietors of The Lowther, Nags and other bars in York. YUSU’s advertising agreements and cheap drink deals with these have driven students off-campus in the evenings for their pre-Gallery drinks. Campus bars like Langwith have therefore suffered. These agreements cannot continue. It would be like Burton signing deals to promote Costcutters’ half-price Doritos while trying to shift his mountains of Kettle Chips next door.
Further, Commercial Services, who Burton has probably spent a large amount of the past few months pandering to, are quickly going to become his business rivals. They’ve shifted a poorly-performing liability off their portfolio, and can now concentrate on ensuring it doesn’t better Derwent or Vanbrugh as the most lucrative location on campus. Burton may have wowed UGM voters with his NUSSL acronyms and claims of national buying syndicates, but the true electorate, which votes in pints, will be won over only with prices.
But, we deserve a place to call ours. Plus, from a business perspective, if it works, it will be a very lucrative, long-term addition to the YUSU portfolio.
We should all support him and his project – it is our money that he is investing. Getting this far is a great achievement, but it is only a small step. Huge numbers of ‘exciting’ ventures fail every day. No student is willing to consistently pay more for a pint just because the money is going to the Union.
Burton now faces a testing year. Pull it off, and he’s the toast of the student body. Fail, and the criticism will be directed solely at his over-ambitious legacy-building.
It’s a pretty good job he got re-elected, really.