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Punch tenants won’t be forced to buy only Heineken products

By Nikkie Sutton , 09-Feb-2017
Last updated on 09-Feb-2017 at 11:47 GMT2017-02-09T11:47:44Z

Reassurance: Lawson Mountstevens has assured Punch tenants beer choice will still be available
Reassurance: Lawson Mountstevens has assured Punch tenants beer choice will still be available

Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens has assured current Punch tenants they will not be forced to buy solely Heineken products.

If the Heineken takeover of the 1,900 Punch pubs goes ahead, there will not be a blanket purchasing order to stock Heineken products and current Punch tenants will be able to buy drinks from a wide range of suppliers, he said.

The announcement was hailed a victory for local and craft brewers by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).

Hundreds of small brewers

SIBA managing director Mike Benner said: “Our Beerflex scheme provides hundreds of small brewers with an important route to market and pub companies with a means of enabling licensees to choose from a large range of craft-brewed beers.

“If its bid is successful, we look forward to working with Heineken to widen access for small brewers even further.”

Local and craft beers are a unique selling point for British pubs and are increasingly in demand by drinkers, he added.

Heineken added that it would continue to work with SIBA to help operators with their beer offer.

Benner’s response followed concerns aired by the Campaign For Real Ale’s (CAMRA) national chairman Colin Valentine yesterday.

Valentine appealed to Mountstevens in an open letter to ensure the potential takeover did not affect competition in the market and reduce choice for customers.

Right to opt out

In the letter, Valentine also called for assurances that tenants would have the right to opt for a market-rent-only (MRO) option and to offer guest real ales from local breweries, “which cannot be considered a real threat to a company of Heineken’s size”.

The CAMRA boss also called for further discussion with Heineken if and when the takeover goes through to give further assurances about its plans.

Mountstevens added: “As we have consistently said, we will start with what is right for each of the pubs joining us and we will work together with licensees to ensure they have the right drinks on offer to suit the specific needs of each pub.”

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