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Tied pubs

Former Enterprise licensee ends boycott & goes free of tie for first time in 200 years

By Oli Gross , 11-Jan-2016
Last updated on 12-Jan-2016 at 18:52 GMT2016-01-12T18:52:51Z

Former Enterprise licensee ends boycott & goes free of tie for first time in 200 years

A licensee is selling draught beer for the first time in two years thanks to the end of a dispute with Enterprise Inns, which led to the publican removing the pub's beer pumps.

Brian Mannion bought the freehold of the Black Lion, in Kilburn, London, at auction in 2013. As part of the agreement, the pub's draught beer sales were tied to Enterprise.

Mannion told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser the price of beer and the conditions of the tie gave him no incentive to sell draught beer.

Drastic

He admits the decision to stop serving pints was a "drastic" move.

"I'm sure customers were disappointed. Turnover dropped probably £100,000 at first. It took three or four months to pick up again," Mannion said.

"Because of the situation, it made much more sense to concentrate on food, wine and spirits. It was a drastic measure but it was an unfair system."

Free of tie

After a two-year stand-off, the licensee and Enterprise have come to an agreement that cuts all ties - the first time the Black Lion has been free-of-tie for the first time in its 200-year history.

When he decided to stop selling beer, Mannion hosted an event that saw a keg being carried out of the pub in a coffin.

And Mannion said the pub is reaping the benefits of reinstalling beer pumps.

Atmosphere

"It seems more like a pub now. It's a bustling busy pub, with an inviting atmosphere," he said.

The Black Lion is embracing the craft beer boom, and the opportunity to have full control over the beers it provides.

"We can use local brewers, it's an exciting time in the industry," Mannion continued.

"There are some brands that might make more profit but craft beers are more popular at the moment."

'This is our place'

The licensee explained he's got a new-found enthusiasm for the pub following the deal.

"We used to have one hand tied behind our backs. We walk in here and think this is our place now. We can retail what we want, if we repair anything it's ours. If the customers recommend something, we can put it on, and the pub gets more TLC," he added.

A spokesperson for Enterprise Inns said: “We’re pleased that we have negotiated a deal with a mutually agreeable outcome for both parties concerned, and wish Brian success for the future.”

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