Cheap supermarket booze is now a bigger threat to the future of pubs than the smoking ban, according to the chief executive of Martson's.
Speaking today as the Midlands brewer announced that first half pre-tax profits are down more than 15 per cent, Ralph Findlay said the biggest issue facing its licensees is cheap off-trade alcohol.
He said: "The increase in price gap between the on-trade and the off-trade has become a greater issue for our tenants than the smoking ban, which is now history.
"In conversation with tenants this will come up much more often and it's an issue in particular with wet led pubs trying to differentiate themselves on price.
"Tenanted pubs have got to understand you can't survive in the market just by selling drink."
His comments are reflected in the fact that Marston's like for like food growth is up 7.8 per cent and that it now accounts for 35 per cent of all sales.
Findlay went on to say that he believes supermarkets have soaked up the tax hikes announced in the Budget and are now selling alcohol even cheaper.
"Since the duty increase it would be our view that off trade pricing is cheaper whereas pubs are more expensive.
"Unfortunately this runs contrary to their stated objective which is responsible drinking and improved behaviour. These things have been part of what our industry has been trying to do over the last few years, but pubs as a place of consumption for alcohol have been penalised."