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Brighton pub freed from Greene King beer tie

By Ewan Turney , 25-Aug-2011

The Hop Poles: will be renamed the Spotted Dog and get a new range of handpumps

The Hop Poles: will be renamed the Spotted Dog and get a new range of handpumps

Greene King has released the beer tie at a famous Brighton pub in order to keep two well known and successful licensees at the venue.


Tony Leonard and Dominic McCartan had been in the process of selling the lease of the Hop Poles but were made a free-of-tie offer by Greene King when the deal fell through.


The pub — to be renamed the Spotted Dog — will now only have to stock one Greene King beer. Rent re-mains the same, but there will be an extra payment of a set percentage of turnover, which the licensees asked to keep confidential.


"It came as a bit of a surprise to us — it is something we put to them a while ago," said Leonard. "In the end, Greene King said they did not want to lose us as operators.


"Under the tie I felt we had reached a dead-end at the pub. We had reached a turnover of £1m but trade had dipped since, because the market and the area had changed. We had the same drinks as everyone else who were doing happy hours and while we were not necessarily losing people through the door, we were losing spend as people went elsewhere for cheap drinks first."


"It is so frustrating knowing what you want to do but not being able to achieve it."


Leonard is now planning to introduce a range of eight handpulls, mostly from the local area, and is working on a special Gooseberry IPA with Dark Star Brewery.


Notably, Greene King has also released the tie at two Craft Beer Company sites in London.


Simon Longbottom, managing director of Greene King Pub Partners, said: "We are happy to consider innovative agreements where appropriate that recognise the talent of highly-rated licensees and help them to revitalise their pubs.


"The focus for Greene King is to get the right deal for the right pub at the right time and that's what we believe we have achieved at the Hop Poles, where the licensees will be getting greater flexibility in return for a percentage of their net turnover.


"We are happy that the pub will continue to offer its customers our quality beer and look forward to seeing the business thrive as a result of this new agreement."