The Suffolk-based brewer and pub operator last week tied up its £774m acquisition of Spirit Pub Company in a deal that creates a 3,100-strong estate featuring around 1,300 tenanted and leased pubs.
Anand said for a company with “humble origins” as a family brewer, the acquisition, which creates the UK’s leading managed operator, made him feel “very proud”.
When asked what the deal meant for licensees in the Spirit estate, Anand told the PMA: “Hopefully, business as usual. We will try to encourage them to stock Greene King beer where they don’t already, but we won’t forceit on them as they havea tied agreement that we will respect.
“But we think we are the brewer of the nation’s finest cask ales. Our ales are highly successful brands in their own right, but really what counts is whether licensees and customers think the same way. So we have to sell to them and convince them.”
Anand explained that he would be looking at agreements on a pub-by-pub basis and “we just want them to carry on doing a great job”.
He said: “We need to talk to Spirit licensees to understand what they like and what they don’t like, but we’re in no rush to change anything with the estate because it’s trading pretty well.” Letters have been sent to all pubs explaining the deal, Anand added.
“We know some of the pubs well and we have a reasonable idea of some stocking arrangements and the agreements that they ran. While we will move as quickly as we can... we will do it in a practical way and make sure the businesses are not unnecessarily distracted or affected. So we will take our time where we have to.”
On top of the 16 pubs identified by the Competition and Markets Authority for disposal, Anand said there would be further trimming of the estate, with 20 to 30 pubs earmarked from the existing Greene King estate and an anticipated similar number from Spirit.
“The most important thing for us is to make sure the two businesses run smoothly, and bring them together as seamlessly as we can.”