Are regional brewers in a better place than the pubcos?

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Regional brewers, Public house, Bbpa, Marston

The City appeared to ignore last week's BIS shindig, but there may be signs of a shift in the tectonic plates of the industry all the same. Sitting...

The City appeared to ignore last week's BIS shindig, but there may be signs of a shift in the tectonic plates of the industry all the same.

Sitting beside British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds in Westminster last Tuesday, Marston's Pub Company boss Alistair Darby seemed - to me, at any rate - to be subtly distancing his company from those larger, purely pub operators within the BBPA.

It wouldn't have been the first time in recent months a regional brewer has shifted slightly away from such people. And, given the feeling towards them from MPs and others, hardly surprising.

Simmonds got a rough ride from MPs over the practices of some of her members. But while Marston's plays an active role in what the BBPA is trying to achieve in many areas and is therefore susceptible to MPs' ire, Darby will have felt less uncomfortable than the trade body boss, who had to defend - and apologise on behalf of - some of her larger corporate members.

While gunning for Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns I think BIS members have gotten the gist of where the likes of Marston's and other regional brewers who happen to run pubs are at.

MPs don't like the tie, but they recognise that regional brewers are at least producing something to sell in their own establishments, namely beer.

And while MPs want to see practices reformed and remain deeply sceptical this can be achieved, they seem to see the family-owned and family-run brewers in a different light from the Big Nasty Pubcos™ whom MPs deem as not caring a fig for their tenants.

A year on from the bitterness of BEC and little seems to have changed. Suspicion and mistrust hold sway. We can but hope for some improvement in 2010.

Related topics: Other operators

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