Licensee of the Three Crowns in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, Michael Duffy, who has been at the site for some 20 years, explained the move had left him feeling like a “second-class citizen”.
He said: “For years we have had support from the brands we stock in the way of PoS material, whether it be a bar runners or glasses.
“I don't want to go back to the days of the inferior quality glassware. It's part of the customer experience, to be served something in a nice glass, whether it's beer or gin.
“Customer expectation has grown; they prefer to be served drinks in branded glassware and I like the branded glassware.
“If an order comes in for one pint of Foster’s, one pint of Moretti, one pint of Kronenberg, by putting them in branded glasses, I know, and the customer knows, what's what.”
Another added cost
In addition, the licensee explained unbranded glassware typically does not contain a widget on the base, meaning the quality of certain serves could become compromised.
Duffy alleged after contacting his supplier for replacement branded glassware, he was advised Stonegate had directed the company to no longer provide this service and to instruct operators to order the products through them instead.
He added: “This is something we've never done before.
“It seems to be a bit strange to me. Is this really the direction the brand owners want to go?”
The operator continued the new charges were on top of a myriad of rising costs “eroding margins” for pubs, including soaring electricity costs and rent increases.
He said: “It's just another added cost to publicans up and down the country at a time when we don't need added costs.
“It’s eroding our margins and reducing our ability to invest in our businesses, which is a bit short term. If we can't invest, it's difficult to grow. If I'm spending out, let's say £155 on glasses, that's maybe the equivalent of me not being able to replace one of the benches in the garden.”
The Stonegate brochure shows a variety of available branded glassware, including a pack of 24 Amstel pint glasses at £39.87 excluding VAT and a set of 12x10oz Aspall glasses at £86.98.
A representative for Stonegate stated the new “transformed” system followed a review of the pubcos marketing support for its pub partners and enabled fairer access to “high-quality materials”.
The spokesperson continued: “The review found branded glassware distribution worked on an ad-hoc and ‘first-come-first-served’ basis, and therefore decided to make it available to all pub partners while also ensuring supplier support is available for key events and initiatives.
“We are offering 50% off the supplier cost on branded glassware while also directing funds into income generating initiatives that benefit pub partners and their guests.
“An example of this is the recent ‘In it, to win it’ campaign, which enabled pub partners to offer a mobile darts game to guests with the opportunity to win a holiday, it had more than 17,000 plays increasing footfall and dwell time.
“Over the next few months, we will be rolling out further campaigns, supporting our pub partners to grow their sales and connect with their guests and communities.”
Another operator, who wished to remain anonymous, detailed a similar experience to Duffy, adding many of the company’s pub partners will now be forced to use “whatever glassware is to hand”, making them look “less professional”.
They said: “What you'll find is people will be getting beer in whatever glass is to hand now.
“The product [won't] be any different but people are very keen to get the right product in the right glassware, especially things like cask ale.
“It makes us look less professional than we'd like to be. When you look at things like Cask Marque, they are based on our professionalism, all the way from the from the keg to the bar top and [branded glassware] is part of that process.
“We're trying as hard as we can to get through this difficult period and then for them to tack on another tax, it just seems like they're just sat in an office trying to think of another way to squeeze a little bit more cash out of us.”