Pa­tri­otic Wether­spoon ditches booze from EU

Daily Mail - - News - By Holly Black

PUB chain Wether­spoon is to stop sell­ing wine and beer from France and Ger­many ahead of Brexit.

It will fo­cus on of­fer­ing more bev­er­ages from UK and non-EU pro­duc­ers across its 880 pubs from July 9.

Cham­pagne and Ger­man wheat beers will be switched for English sparkling wine and craft beers in the run-up to leav­ing the EU.

But Kop­par­berg cider, which is cur­rently made in Swe­den, will stay stocked af­ter the Swedish firm said it will switch pro­duc­tion to the UK. Drinkers will also still be able to or­der Ital­ian pros­ecco – at least for now.

JD Wether­spoon chair­man Tim Martin said: ‘This is the start of a re­view of all prod­ucts in the next six to 24 months, with the ob­ject of mak­ing our busi­ness more com­pet­i­tive.’

He said tar­iffs im­posed by the ‘pro­tec­tion­ist’ EU were keep­ing prices high for UK con­sumers.

Some 2mil­lion peo­ple visit Wether­spoon pubs every week.

The group sells more than 6mil­lion bot­tles of Kop­par­berg and 2mil­lion bot­tles of sparkling wine and pros­ecco every year, but fewer than 100,000 bot­tles of cham­pagne are bought at its pubs.

In place of French fizz, the pubs will of­fer UK sparkling wine brands Den­bies and White­downs as well as Australian Hardys wines. Mean­while UKbrewed wheat beers Blue Moon Bel­gian White, Thorn­bridge Versa Weisse and SA Brains At­lantic White will re­place Ger­man brands such as Erdinger.

Russ Mould, in­vest­ment direc­tor at sav­ings firm AJ Bell, said: ‘Tim Martin’s strong held poli­ti­think cal views are well known and you have to re­spect any­one’s abil­ity to stick to their prin­ci­ples so firmly.

‘Ex­clud­ing pop­u­lar brands of drinks based on their coun­try of ori­gin seems like an un­usual move for a firm which you would wants to be seen as in­clu­sive and wel­com­ing to cus­tomers of all views and be­liefs, but Mr Martin knows his cus­tomers and has suc­cess­fully built the firm by pro­vid­ing value for money.’

Mr Martin said Brexit would cre­ate big mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for UK and non-EU pro­duc­ers, which the pub group is keen to en­cour­age.

The Wether­spoon chair­man added: ‘The prod­ucts we are in­tro­duc­ing are at lower prices than the EU prod­ucts they are re­plac­ing.

‘We in­tend to hon­our ex­ist­ing con­tracts with EU sup­pli­ers, some of which have sev­eral years to run, but we are start­ing to make the tran­si­tion to non-EU trade now.’

‘Pro­vid­ing value for money’

Last or­ders: Chair­man Tim Martin

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