Beer Baron: Greene King's Rooney Anand is one of the street fighters in the sector
The bar trade has always been a contact sport.
Violent clients, staff who are skimming, breweries with bullying. Plus you have the modern treble whammy of the smoking ban, hard-driving crackdown and cheap-as-chips supermarket grog. It is not a job for shandy drinkers.
Fortunately, Greene King's Rooney Anand is one of the street fighters in the industry.
Of course he does not look like much. A stocky, paternal creature, his graceful mittens sometimes look as if they are struggling to get a grip on his pint of IPA.
But contemporaries say that he is a scrappy bulldog in Terrier's clothing and I can believe it. How else would he be at the top of this spit & # 39; & & # 39; sawdust world can survive?
The enthusiastic golfer Anand said this week that he called the time to spend his time in the Suffolk brewer, who was responsible for such foaming pleasures as Old Speckled Hen and Abbot Ale and at the same time handing in a respectable scorecard to the clubhouse.
When he took over the helm in 2004, Greene King had 1998 pubs. Today it has more than 2,800, while sales have quadrupled to £ 2.2 billion.
Although he is a crazy bay, he is not universally popular with the so called "beerage & # 39 ;. He and his Wetherspoon rival Tim Martin are unlikely to be on each other's Christmas card lists.
In 2009 he drew & # 39; GK & # 39; from the British Beer and Pub Association and running fellow members by claiming that he could find better ways to spend the money.
He rolled a hand grenade in the bar of the salon when he was in favor of minimum alcohol prices, a turkey-tuning-for-Christmas set in which fellow adolescents were startled.
But then there is nothing so simple about this neat, Delhi-born marketing man.
Despite his Sikh heritage he enjoys a pint or three. He makes sure that his hair breaks. His wife, with whom he has three children, is French. He retains a predilection for spicy Porsches.
Growth: when Rooney Anand took over in 2004, Greene King had 1998 pubs. Today it has more than 2,800, while sales have quadrupled to £ 2.2 billion
After he moved to Walsall for two years, where he was in the same local school as Goodness Gracious Me comedian, Meera Syal, Anand's father, a surgeon and mother, an anesthetist, had hoped that their son would follow them in medicine .
But Rooney had seen his uncle in engineering float a few times across the Middle East, so a building course at the old Bristol Poly followed. A year of work experience at Tarmac followed.
A young Asian on a construction site are challenging & # 39 ;, he says. He soon realized that the construction lark was not for him.
After he had done an MBA, he joined United Biscuits, where he developed a talent for marketing. "Toffees and butterscotch, Ford Sierra diesel and £ 15,000 a year", he says enthusiastically.
Several other roles of the type of marketing followed at Terry & # 39; s Confectionery and pudding maker Sara Lee.
When he moved to Greene King in 2001 as a brewer, he admitted that he had barely heard of the company and had never been to Bury St Edmunds, where the company is based.
But he quickly settled in Cambridge, and when he was made director in 2004, he wasted no time on the company's growth, leading him to take over a £ 254 million acquisition of Scots rivals Belhaven a year later.
Purchases from Loch Fyne and Laurel Inns followed. His biggest deal, for Spirit Pubs in 2014 for £ 774 million, was originally praised as a coup, but began to sour last year as the downfall of an informal dinner.
Now that the star of Rooney is apparently declining and the share price of the company is now faltering, his retirement this week was not a big shock. He has been working for so long that many in catering find it difficult to think of Greene King without Rooney.
But the pubs keep running, the bubbling fermentation tanks are still running.
They have been brewing in Bury St. Edmunds since the monks discovered liquid alchemy in the 9th century, and will continue to do so until our hunger for the brown nectar finally diminishes.
And that will, as Larkin pointed out, disappear.