Enterprise and Black Lion licensee war of words over beer boycott

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Enterprise Inns Black Lion Brian Mannion beer boycott
A row has erupted between Enterprise Inns and one of its tied tenants, who last week called for pubs to stop buying draught beer from pubcos for one day a month.

Brian Mannion, of the Black Lion in Kilburn, north-west London, who conducted a draught wake, said a “principled stand” would pressurise pubcos into reducing prices.

However, Simon Townsend, chief operating officer of Enterprise, blasted the tenant’s actions and comments as “disingenuous and potentially deeply irresponsible”.

In a statement, seen exclusively by the PMA​, Townsend claimed Mannion’s decision to withdraw draught products from sale had nothing to do with the terms of supply and slammed the move as designed to “damage Enterprise’s earnings in an attempt to persuade it to give up its interest in the business”.

He described Mannion’s claim that the prices of tied products were “forcing” him to stop draught beers and lagers as “nothing short of blatant misrepresentation and opportunism”.

“The Black Lion lease provides for cyclical rent reviews every five years, the most recent of which was freely negotiated and agreed by Mr Mannion in 2009 and resulted in a 10% reduction in rent to £52,000pa, and took full account of the prices at which tied products are supplied,” Townsend said in the statement.

“In July 2012, Mr Mannion acquired the freehold title of the Black Lion from Enterprise, paying almost £1.5m at auction, on a sale and leaseback arrangement under which Enterprise pays rent to Mr Mannion. Since that time, he has made clear his desire to have Enterprise removed from the intermediate 35-year lease that the parties willingly entered into, and has repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, set out to undermine the tied supply contract under which the lease operates.”

However, Mannion rejected the claims. “In an attempt to make this personal and steer away from the fact that it forces licensees to pay a scandalous 66% more on some beer products than a free-of-tie pub, Enterprise has been blatantly inaccurate about our business relationship,” he said.

“I did not acquire the freehold in 2012. In July 2010, the freehold title to The Black Lion was purchased for £1.3million by an investment company that I have shares in. I understand the freehold had not been offered to the leaseholder and it was consequently acquired at auction at short notice."

Mannion said his decision to withdraw draught beer was solely to do with its terms of supply as discussed with Enterprise last month.

Read the full statements below:

Related topics: Beer, Ei Group

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