LICENSEES CHEERED BY MOVE TO ‘UNTIE’ THEM
THOUSANDS of pub landlords will have greater freedom with buying their beer, if a surprise defeat for the government makes its way into law books.
And beer drinkers could see the price of their favourite tipple tumble, as the rules on ‘tied houses’ are relaxed.
The Small Business Bill now contains a clause allowing tenants of the six largest pub companies (‘pubcos’) to renegotiate with their landlord, following the rebellion by a handful of Tory and Lib Dem MPs on Tuesday last week.
In exchange for an independently adjudicated market rent for the premises, licensees will be allowed a free hand in sourcing their beers, if they choose.
The Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) welcomed the move.
“This simple choice could spell the end of pubco licensees being forced out of business through high rents and tied product prices,” it said in a statement.
Opponents, such as the British Beer and Pub Association, take a different view, however.
“It would hugely damage investment and jobs, and result in 1,400 more pubs closing, with 7,000 job losses – as the government’s own research shows,” a spokesman said.
Gary Carpenter, the landlord at The General Eliott, in St John’s Road, Uxbridge, said: “We can obviously shop around smaller beer wholesalers, whose products are significantly cheaper. Financially it would make a big difference.”
Shaun Walters, licensee of The King William IV in Sipson Road, Sipson, and a Greene King tenant, also welcomed the news.
Although slightly wary of the market rent element, and the possibility that pubcos could play hardball with it to recoup any losses on the wet side of the business, he welcomed the chance to get beer at a better price and from where he chooses.
“At the end of the day, I welcome it; if I can get my beer cheaper, I’m happy,” Mr Walters said.
n LAW CHANGE: Pub tenants may be getting a freer rein for sourcing their beers if the Small Business Bill enters the law books Library