Business

Wetherspoon ends UK Heineken drinks deal over Ireland row

Heineken beer Image copyright AFP

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon will no longer sell Heineken products in its 926 pubs in the UK after an argument over pricing in Ireland.

Wetherspoon fell out with the Dutch brewing giant over supplying beer to one pub, and will now not be serving Heineken lager or Murphy's stout in the UK at all.

The pub chain takes £60m of Heineken products a year in the UK.

A dispute with Diageo means Wetherspoon does not serve Guinness in Ireland.

JD Wetherspoon said that Heineken had refused to supply its lager - Ireland's biggest-selling draught beer - and Murphy's stout to Wetherspoon's second pub in Ireland, which is due to open in Dun Laoghaire.

The spat means Strongbow cider, John Smith's bitter and Foster's lager are also off Wetherspoon's UK menu.

Wetherspoon has been selling pints of Heineken lager and Murphy's at prices around 40% below the competition at its first Irish pub in Blackrock, Dublin.

The row in Ireland came to a head when Heineken requested Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson give personal guarantees to pay all Heineken bills if Wetherspoon did not pay them, according to the pub chain.

Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: "We have been trading with Heineken for 35 years and they have never requested personal guarantees before.

"It's obstructive to do so now, especially when we made record profits of around £80m last year.

"The refusal to supply Heineken lager and Murphy's just before the opening of our new pub in Dun Laoghaire, which represents an investment by us of nearly four million euros, is unacceptable and hard to understand."

Heineken UK declined to comment in detail, but said: "We are aware of the comments made by JD Wetherspoon (JDW) and its chairman this morning.

"Heineken UK has had a long standing and successful relationship with JDW in the UK market over a 35-year period, and it is unfortunate that commercial issues in Ireland between Heineken Ireland and JD Wetherspoon have led to the current situation.

"We are seeking a resolution as soon as possible."

The pub chain last year outlined plans for around 30 pubs in the Republic of Ireland.

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