The Fair Pint campaign has welcomed the Campaign for Real Ale’s supercomplaint which highlights how restricted and distorted competition in the market and the operation of the ‘beer tie’ has inflated the price of beer to consumers and made it difficult for tied tenants to make a living from their pubs.
Fair Pint believes, however, that CAMRA are misguided in their view that removing ‘beer ties’ would damage the real ale market in the UK. The campaign believes that the only way in which the pub sector will be able to secure its long term future is by giving publicans the freedom to adapt to changing customer demands by through the total abolition of ‘ties’.
Steve Corbett a tied publican and founder member of Fair Pint said:
“The CAMRA supercomplaint highlights how the tie and the lack of transparency in the system used to set rents is being abused by pub owning companies. It also shows how the share of risk and reward between tied tenants and the companies who own their pubs is unbalanced in the landlords favour. This imbalance in the relationship between both non-brewing and brewing pub owning companies is raising the cost of beer for consumers and is leading to the failure of thousands of small businesses.
“As the CAMRA supercomplaint points out, Fair Pint research has shown that pub owning companies are charging their tied tenants over 70p a pint more than the same products are available to free of tie tenants. In combination with a system of setting rents which has led to many tied tenants paying higher rents than free of tie tenants this means that the majority are barely making a living from their pub
“CAMRA are right to point out that reform is urgently needed to rebalance the relationship between tenants and their landlord. Fair Pint believe that the most effective way of doing this would be through reforms which would sweep away anachronistic practices like the tie and ensure that the system of setting rents is fair and transparent.
“The only way in which the pub sector will secure its long-term future is if pubs have the freedom to adapt to changing consumer demands. CAMRA correctly point out that ties mean that most small brewers are unable to sell their products to tied pubs, we therefore find it confusing why the organisation believes that the removal of the tie would damage the real ale market in the UK.
“The continuation of the tie, even if limited to companies who own fewer than 500 pub will leave the door open to the continuation of anti-competitive practices in the sector.”