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By Simon Clarke

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Related tags: Regional brewers, Brewers

Simon Clarke: "There is something drastically wrong with the way the tied-tenanted estates are run by brewers and pubcos"
Simon Clarke: "There is something drastically wrong with the way the tied-tenanted estates are run by brewers and pubcos"
Following the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report, prior to the Beer Orders 1989, it seemed the industry was going to be reformed after three previous investigations. But The Brewers Society submitted proposals and all six recommendations were watered down, opening the door for the birth of the pubcos. The issue of the tie was lost in the muddy waters of a looming general election.

Skip forward to today — the All Parliamentary Select Committee unanimously recommended a Market Rent Only (MRO) option after four inquiries.

The pubcos and regional brewers took umbrage and, just like in the 1980s, submitted their own self-regulatory proposal. That didn’t work and, thankfully, Government accepted that voluntary regulation changes little so produced a statutory code proposal.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), formerly the Brewers Society, has not unveiled its strategy but we can expect them to undertake a similar PR campaign to that of the late 1980s. Their campaign will call on MPs to criticise the Government’s plan and claim anything positive relating to pubs is as a result of their continued, unregulated, existence.

Exclusion

All but one of 29 members of the so-called ‘family’ regional brewers are also members of the BBPA, the only other members being pubcos.

This relationship has helpfully created an environment where a relatively small number of businesses can use the 20,000 or so UK-tied pubs to foist on the consumer a series of heavily marketed brands to the virtual exclusion of the 1,000 or so micro-brewers of Britain.

Some might say this is the cartel the OFT failed to identify.

In the meantime, most tied tenants are unable to respond to consumer demand and are stuck in a time warp.

Simon Clarke is the licensee of the Eagle in Battersea and a Fair Pint campaigner

The income from the tenanted pubs of the regional brewers is a tiny fraction of their revenue so the MRO proposal, even if chosen by all of their ‘happy’ tenants, would barely dent the coffers. But they are bound to the BBPA and will oppose Government proposals because otherwise it introduces what they have sought to avoid — competition between pubs.

Opportunity

We have not seen a reform opportunity like this since the Beer Orders. I’d like to think that the brewer and pubco influence has diminished and Parliamentarians are no longer so easily led, having noticed their favourite constituency pubs disappearing.

I hope naivety has been replaced by a cold realisation there is something drastically wrong with the way the tied-tenanted estates are run by brewers and pubcos alike, and something has to change.

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2 comments

Too many indisputable facts Dave!

Posted by Dave Law,

As Simon says the IFBB have shot themselves in the foot by pushing the BBPA, Griffith agenda and got themselves included in some of the proposals. Epicaricacy of the highest order! Lol

Contrary to their oft shouting that Govt intervention created the 'unintended consequence' that became Pubcos, it was the so called free marketeers- the Family Brewers, that collectively intervened to plead for more protectionism with dire results.

You only have to read some of the ridiculous tosh trotted out by Brewers constituency MP's in the lead up to the Beer Orders to see how similar and partizan the agenda is for the member for Punch and Marstons.

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Posted by Dave Mountford,

Im amazed than no one has anything to say about this - perhaps people are too shocked to discover that the great PUBCO scam was rumbled 20 years ago and far from the Beer orders being responsible for Punch and Enterprise in fact it was the attempts of the family Brewers to water down legislation that caused the mess we are now in

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