In a letter sent to the Pubs Advisory Service (PAS) on 1 June, Newby’s office said it was looking for evidence that showed “whether any of the pub-owning businesses within scope of the code have policies and/or use behaviours that have the effect of inhibiting the ability of their tied pub tenants to access their MRO option”.
A spokesperson for the PCA told The Morning Advertiser (MA) the “fact-finding exercise” was taking place because “a number of issues relating to access to MRO have been raised with the PCA”.
The PCA’s office refused to confirm which specific MRO issues it would be examining, saying it didn’t want to preclude any evidence given.
The MA understands that as well as asking the PAS for its co-operation, the PCA has also asked the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the six pubcos (Marston’s, Greene King, Ei, Star Pubs & Bars, Punch and Admiral Taverns) governed by the code to provide evidence.
The fact-finding will take the format of hour-long phone interviews between a representative from the PCA office and the industry bodies asked for evidence.
Low MRO take-up
The PCA’s appeal for information follows the revelation that across five of the six code-governed pubcos, only eight licensees have successfully agreed an MRO option in the first 10 months of the pubs code.
One licensee who has been attempting to finalise an MRO option for six months called the process “very complicated” and off putting for licensees.