Writing in The Scotsman newspaper today (Monday 9 January), Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of the Heineken owned Star Pubs & Bars, addressed concerns raised by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), which claimed the company’s proposed purchase of 1,900 Punch pubs was a “backwards move”.
Moutstevens said: “Of the 4,900 pubs in Scotland, we currently own just over 100 — that’s 2%.
“If our offer is successful, this would increase to just 6%, far from making us the monster that the SLTA says we would become.”
‘Passion and expertise’
The comments came in response to SLTA’s chief executive’s Paul Waterson’s claims that the arrangement would create a “monster-tie” that would “destabilise an already fragile industry” when the deal between the two companies first arose in December 2016.
At the time, Waterson said: “A backwards move, it represents bad news for brewers, whose route to market will almost certainly be controlled by Heineken.”
He added: “Moreover there are disturbing implications for tenants who are already compromised by the tied-pub system, especially in Scotland where there is an absence of legislative protection.”
Mountstevens counted: “Rather than ‘destabilise our fragile industry’, we hope to bring our passion, expertise and successful operating model to more Scottish pubs.”
‘Subject to approval’
According to the newspaper, Mountstevens also claimed that Heineken was “proud” to contribute approximately £370m to Scotland’s economy.
Mountstevens claimed: “We have consistently said that we start with what is right for each pub, and we will work with licensees to ensure they have the right drinks offer to suit the specific needs of each pub.
“Our purchase is subject to approval by Punch shareholders and the UK regulators, so we will, of course, fully co-operate with the competition authorities.”
The SLTA was not available for comment.
Last month shareholders such as Glenview, Avenue and Warwick all backed the Heineken/Patron Capital Partners bid which was revised to 180p per share, giving Punch Taverns a share capital of £402.7m.
Heineken currently owns 1,049 pubs through its Star Pubs & Bars division. Buying Punch means the Dutch company would have almost 3,000 sites under its pub estate, making it the third largest pub company in the UK after Enterprise Inns and Greene King.
A Heineken spokesperson told The Morning Advertiser: “The offer currently rests with Punch shareholders for agreement in the coming weeks and, of course, will be subject to regulatory approval.”