Punch Taverns has defended the pubco model on the day that licensees staged a demonstration on the company's doorstep.
Licensees from across the country headed to Punch Taverns' head office in Burton-Upon-Trent today as part of a Justice for Licensees demonstration.
Punch managing director Roger Whiteside and operations director Kevin Georgel met with the protestors to discuss the issues raised, but the Publican was asked to leave when the meeting became heated.
Punch Taverns also refused to accept a letter from the licensees, just as Enterprise Inns had done earlier in the day.
Nigel Turpin, Punch Taverns corporate affairs director, said: "We continue to invest £1.6 million a month supporting licensees that have a genuine need for additional assistance during this challenging trading period and would urge the government to do more to secure the future of the great British pub.
"We have robust communication channels in place to allow our licensees to raise issues with us if they need to and we do not condone this protest. However, we are inviting any Punch licensees who are protesting peacefully to join our regional operations directors for a coffee and a chat, so that they can air their concerns.
"We firmly believe that the leased model offers entrepreneurs a good low-cost entry into the pub industry and we will continue to do everything we can to support our licensees.
"We would like to stress that Justice For Licensees has conducted all of its lobbying to date through the media and we have received no official communication of their concerns."
Licensee Inez Ward, who organised the protest, said she was encouraged by the response from Punch. She said: "It is a step in the right direction. However time will tell if there will be any improvement."
Dave Mountfield, licensee of the Rising Sun in Matlock, Derbyshire, added: "It is good to know that our own problems as licensees are not unique. Now we have the basis for a coordinated response to bring together everything we have as a group and build a picture of everything that has been going on and that is going to be very powerful."